Hi once again. I hope I did not bore you too much with the story of my life last week. If I did I apologize.
In this article I will be talking about the importance of public libraries in our communities. Michael Gorman, the former president of the American Library Association, in one of the books I read while getting my masters in Library and Information Science, put it best.
He said: “Libraries are the finest example of a democratic institution in any democratic society.” Truer words I believe were never spoken.
Public libraries serve all people regardless of race, religion, economic status, etc. (or they are supposed to, if they are not they are not fulfilling their mission or purpose). Libraries are the great equalizer in society. They allow access to all materials in print, electronic format, audio, video. They teach and allow people to utilize technology so they can be as knowledgeable as possible and not lose ground in a consistently changing world of information. And this is just part of what makes libraries great.
Some people and librarians may debate me on this point of the greatness of libraries, but I firmly believe that the function of libraries is beyond just intellectual pursuits. To me they should be seen as places to go to not only learn but also for fun and recreation. They should have book clubs for all ages, be a center for hobbies that interest the community, present programs from gaming to crafts for all ages. These uses make libraries stronger and more valued by all people.
Libraries serve the people. If someone walks into a library looking for information on any subject, they should leave the library with that information. The employees of the library serve the patrons. What is important in the community should be reflected in the library. A library that is not in tune with its patrons and their needs will soon find itself out of business. I think you will find where libraries thrive, especially in these fiscally challenging times; they are a valued resource in their community.
The saddest thing I have run into since becoming a librarian is that most people do not know what libraries have to offer. They don’t know that the library provides programs for children that forms the basics of literacy. That libraries offer resources for kids to get their homework done.
That libraries offer programs in a safe environment that are fun and entertaining. That libraries can help through various information sources ways to improve people’s lives. Libraries are here for the people, not the other way around.
As you can tell I am very passionate about libraries and their function in communities and people’s lives. Everyone should reap the benefits libraries offer. All libraries should be welcoming places that are used by all. If not they are just buildings with books and other materials. They are not the great democratic ideal they should.
In parting, I believe in people, I believe in hope and I believe in libraries.
n Bill Corder is the Youth Services Librarian at the Robeson County Public Library.