With the advent of the Internet and its easy access to the everyday person, a lot of people have come to wonder why libraries should be relevant to today’s society. Most people still have an archaic stereotype of what libraries are and the librarians who inhabit them. You’ve probably heard of it: The elderly woman with steel gray hair up in a bun, horn rimmed glasses and brownish long skirts. Her face is stern and angry as she swoops around the library making sure no one is talking above a whisper; God forbid they’re caught destroying the books in anyway. Even if this isn’t your view of the library, you probably think librarians just sit behind the desk all day reading.
These unfortunate views make it that much harder for those of us in the library to dispel these long held views. In some places, these libraries struggle to get people to see the relevance of these places for themselves and others. This is why many of us eagerly take up the torch in defense of libraries everywhere. It gives us a challenge to show how essential they are to the communities.
And libraries are essential, but how exactly are they? What can they do to continue education AND entertainment for people? If you’re a little unsure of why libraries are important, please continue reading the following list and see how they can help you and others.
1. Libraries provide free access to various materials.
In today’s world where many people are cutting back from spending, the library provides free access to books, movies, music, and the Internet without having to spend a dime. If you’re looking for ways to spend money, why not come to the library and get the same things you spent at the store for free? Or if you don’t have the money to spend on these things, you have the opportunity to have access to these materials for free. What a great level playing field for all.
2. Not everything you need is on the Internet, or accurate.
If you’re doing research, you want to have accurate and complete information. Just doing a simple Google search can pull up hundreds, if not thousands, of webpages. Some of it’s good information, but most of it’s not. A good librarian will show you good books and articles both in the library, the databases, and the Internet.
3. Libraries provide a diverse, safe community.
Libraries are the place to offer information for all groups including men, women, children, people of color, and the LGBTQ communities. This is a place where culture thrives and people meet together and discuss topics together in a warm, welcoming environment.
4. Libraries allows for personal and professional development.
Libraries are the center for education. Librarians are excited when patrons come in and look for materials that will extend their growth and development in their personal and professional lives. There are books about careers, resumes, colleges, grad schools, and any topic of your interest that you’d like to learn more about including sea life, military and social history.
5. Libraries aren’t just books.
As you’ve probably noticed, libraries provide more than just books. They are at the cutting edge of technology. They include ebooks and other online resources for patrons to peruse. Many things are technology based these days and librarians are here to give instruction on how to successfully use them.
6. Technology doesn’t replace libraries.
Many people are predicting that ereaders and mobile devices are going to replace the physical book. However, I don’t think so. Books are still going strong. The radio is still going on in spite of television, people still talk on the phone instead of emailing or texting. There will always be people who prefer physical books over digital materials.
7. Libraries help preserve history.
At my library, we have a local history room that provides the history of the town and genealogical records for those looking for relatives and ancestors. In bigger libraries, I’m sure they have national historical interests preserved. You can even get access to news databases and find what newspapers and magazines said a hundred years ago. How cool is that?
8. Libraries provide programs for all ages.
You’ve probably heard of the summer reading program for both kids, teens, and adults. Including that, we have programs for all sorts of interests and levels. Book clubs, read aloud groups, computer classes, and so much more, all for free.
9. Librarians are the best search engines.
This one crops up in many articles. That’s because we know how to correctly search for information and other materials for the patron. We can even show you how to do so yourself!
10. Libraries provide a “common room” experience.
People can gather at the library to discuss books and other information. It’s a great way to meet and connect with people you wouldn’t have thought to connect with before.
So here are ten reasons why we still need libraries. Why do you use the library and what do you love about yours?
*Some of my list has been inspired by ALA and librariesareessential.com, among others.