When you stop in at your library, do you ever take a moment to consider the full value of the library, its services and materials?
The Massachusetts Library Association created a Library Value Calculator to help us determine some of the value we get when we make use of our local libraries. This handy calculator helps us to set a monetary value for the books and movies, music and magazines we check out. It also gives a value for meeting rooms, programs and computer use, among others. It is quite informative to use the calculator to see the value of these items for us as individuals.
Another aspect of this business of the value of the library relates to its value in the moment. By this I mean that we recognize the value of providing internet for schooling or job-seeking. But when I am the student or the job-seeker, the value increases significantly. In the moment that I am the job applicant, when I really need the internet to access an application or to locate information, the importance of the library is magnified for me.
Consider as well, the human factor. Yes, we can order books and other materials online. We can stay home and still connect with people near and far. But, in Ignacio, as well as in other parts of the county, people like to gather. We need places and opportunities to build connection. I believe in the role and value of our libraries in creating that shared space of opportunity and connectedness.
For ICL patrons, we provide that in countless ways throughout the month. We recently began the Teen Café on Wednesday afternoons. Teen Café is a place where teens can connect with other kids and adults in an open, friendly space. We’ve seen kids put down their electronics to play board games and talk with each other. It’s been so popular that we created the same space for older adults on Thursday mornings.
Our maker space has been bringing kids and adults together to learn from each other; kids are teaching adults the ins and outs of our 3-D printer. Opportunities like this used to be found every day in home life, especially in rural America, where tinkering and DIY were common. Now, we find these opportunities more often in libraries than in our homes. Another value of the modern library.
So, check out the value calculator. It’s fun to see the amount that we benefit from our local libraries. You can find it at http://bit.ly/1Mc11zp. But then, also consider how libraries benefit us all as places where communities are built and people are connected and engaged.
Marcia Vining is library director at Ignacio Community Library.