I’d like to focus on what is happening in libraries in this article of Shelf Life, now that the concern over e-books has subsided and, to paraphrase the words of Mark Twain, the death of the book has been greatly exaggerated. Let’s go to some local libraries and see what’s going on.
We see that books, in various forms, still take the center stage, but so much more occurs at libraries today. It’s actually an amazing amount of activity. We now have maker-spaces, tech-hubs, story times, book clubs, kaffeeklatsches, art groups, video gaming and writing workshops.
Librarians believe in “equal access,” which means that all people – regardless of age, education, ethnicity, language, income, physical limitations or geographic barriers – have access to the information they need, according to the American Library Association. Patrons can obtain information in a variety of formats – digital and print. The belief in equal access also informs library collection development and programming.
So, why do libraries provide internet service? Answer: because of equal access. Why do we have programs about making things, quilting and writing? Answer: the same reason. Libraries provide access to information for local patrons who might not be able to find what they’re looking for otherwise. The information, and the skills we use to access information, changes economic development, education levels and entertainment options of communities. Libraries and the programs they offer contribute to a sense of community that modern society sometimes lacks. They influence skills that support and promote a democratic society.
Modern libraries continue to be institutions of learning and growth. The ability to change, grow and learn is desirable not only in citizens but also in the institution of the library. Hands-on learning and book knowledge go hand-in-hand. Through expanding services and programs, we find that people love to get together and share skills and expertise, to learn more and explore new ideas.
If you are a current library user, I hope you look further and see what else is happening. If you aren’t much of a library user, I hope you will take a second look. We aren’t the place of the past anymore. In fact, we can be a riot of activity and learning. Not to worry though, we still have quiet reading spaces.
Stop in soon; you might reconnect with old friends, meet new ones and learn something in the process.
Marcia Vining is library director at Ignacio Community Library.