Friday, July 5, 2013

The Future of Your Community Public Library

The most democratic of our institutions Your local public library is the quintessential American invention and, along with the local post office,  the most democratic of our institutions because it is open to all: rich and poor, young and old, citizen and immigrant, the learned and those seeking to acquire and expand their knowledge. This valuable service is being threatened by budget cutbacks. 

The role of a library in the community Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with my favorite librarians in the town where I live and where I occasionally bring clients and visitors from our other American and international communities.
The question I asked: what does a library do and how does it do it. Here is what I was told:

o   Libraries are in the literacy business; both the paper and the electronic type;

1.      children literacy: this is where it starts and where preschoolers and other pupils begin to acquire the skills needed to become productive citizens
2.      adult literacy: in a country of immigrants this is where “new Americans” learn language, customs, laws and traditions and the rest of us keep up with our obligations as citizens
3.      technology literacy: today, everything is online – job searches, benefits applications, filing tax returns, applying for a driver’s license, your favorite books and magazines.

From paperback to e-everything A vast array of services have been and continue to be provided at virtually zero out of pocket costs to inform, educate and even entertain a community. In spite of cutbacks, there is an ongoing transition to the e-world of services – internet access, desktops, tablets and more; an unsustainable path, unless supported by additional and/or alternate funding sources.

How to sustain your library Here are some options that generate additional resources without impacting the traditional mission of your local public library:

Ø  Info point for out of town visitors and locals without impacting library staff time
Ø  Meeting point for events, especially for education, training, study groups and job creation
Ø  Energy savings that reduce running costs, freeing up resources for regular library services.

Culture, knowledge, learning, friendship and sustainable economic development all in one location at your local public library will be the subject of an upcoming article.

Sustain Your Library and Community
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