Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Santa Maria Times Editorial: The Sound of Libraries Suffocating

The sound of libraries suffocating. (Santa Maria Times editorial, 7/5/2011)

Excerpt: Throttling public libraries may very well be another problem with lasting repercussions. Consider these facts:

Public libraries are places Americans go to help them find and get jobs. It’s where anyone who signs up for a library card can check out any book they please.

Nearly as many Americans have library cards as they do credit cards. Even if they don’t have the requisite card, there are usually plenty of places to sit and read the periodicals.

Libraries are places where we can go to get answers. Don’t have a computer at home? Your public library has them. And tech training classes take place daily at more than a third of the nation’s libraries.

Every day that America’s 16,000 public libraries are open, more than 300,000 people search for jobs. Most of those libraries are Wi-Fi hotspots, so you can bring your laptop and browse to your heart’s content.

Nearly 3 million times each month, local businesses nationwide rely on the local library’s resources to help those business owners turn a profit.

Libraries are frequent hosts for family movie nights. Libraries have more meeting rooms than the nation’s conference centers, convention facilities and auditoriums combined. It’s an ideal place for community issues to be discussed, and because libraries are “quiet places,” the discourse tends to be more civil.

Each year, about 220 million Americans attend a sporting event of some kind — compared to 1.4 billion visits to public libraries. Another comparison — FedEx ships an average of 8 million packages daily; the nation’s public libraries circulate about the same number of materials.

The recession and its effects on local government are pulling support away from libraries. You may be able to help by discussing the issue with your elected representatives. Another avenue of assistance is through a Friends-of-the-Library group. Just about every community has one.

The Great Recession has changed life as we know it in so many ways. We can’t allow it to kill our libraries.

No comments: