Public Libraries…A Gift to the World

The community in which I live is getting ready to open their newly renovated and expanded public library, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  Our local government, and a great number of private funds totaling millions of dollars supported this effort.  The community’s support of this venture was something truly extraordinary.  They saw how a grand library system creates a solid foundation for a prosperous community. I grew up going to the library.  My parents are avid readers, and I had my first library card at a young age.  Spending time at the library was like opening a world of imagination for me.  Books allowed me to experience history, cultures, and diversity in ways that I would never get to experience in my own life.  And the best part about it…it was free! Knowledge is power.  Libraries offer all the knowledge in the world.  They can take you to foreign lands, open your eyes to new experiences, and create opportunities for learning in the millions of pages available on their shelves. Libraries are part of a community.  They have grown to support meeting space, computer access, outreach activities and more.  The library director in my town, Brad Allen, refers to libraries as “…a conduit; it’s a referral.  That’s what a library is, that thing that gets you excited about going out into the rest of the world.  We’re just a component of a great fabric.  That’s what we want to be – the partner.” As an adult, I still visit the library.  The faces have changed a bit.  I still see young kids with their parents, but I also see many other people.  I see young adults doing research; unemployed individuals using the computers to look for jobs; retirees meeting friends and selecting their weekly read; and people like me who see the incredible value  in having this service be available for anyone. I have met many people in the last several years who have never set foot in a library.  I ask them “how do they get access to literature?”  I get a variety of answers, but something along the lines of: I buy books online, at a book store, download them on my e-reader, or they just aren’t readers at all.  If you fall into any of these categories, then I encourage you to find your local library and see what they are all about.  If you don’t want to step inside, they probably have a website that allows you to see all of the programs they have available and even potentially download e-books at no charge. “The library is a place of discovery,” Allen says, “a hopeful place and an inspirational space.”

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