By Abby Junkvorian -May, 2019
As the time approaches for cities and towns to begin publishing and voting on their budgets, many fail to consider one of their town’s biggest assets – the public library. In 2017 alone, Massachusetts libraries served a total of 6,780,743 civilians (MBLC).
So why is the constant threat of shutting down our state’s public libraries still looming? Well, the one major issue that many people can agree on is the lack of funding and budget cuts from their city or town councils.
Why should the very people that want to help their towns put their best foot forward be reducing access to one of the people’s most valuable assets?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been going to the library. Whether it was for a story time, or an author visit, or even just to get some homework done, I can always remember it being a significant help and joy to me and my family.
Libraries in the digital age are portrayed as “failing” or “not able to keep up” with the demands of technology, but to be honest, if you walked into any library, I’m sure you would be pleasantly surprised. From access to computers and printing, to the expansive access to digital media, libraries are really keeping up with the needs and demands of those in their communities. Libraries are not just books anymore. They have become a social center for the community. Are you aware that your library offers book groups, author visits and public speakers on such topics as health, safety and finance?
Did you know you could view movies, attend music concerts and enjoy viewing local art? Did you know that you can access movie downloads, e-books and e-magazines? And do you realize it is all free?
So, what can be done to help keep the libraries in our communities alive? The best thing is to keep using them. We have to continue to prove to our towns and cities that the libraries are just as important as schools, safety, and special community events.
They’ve become a staple in many people’s lives. It gives citizens the opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills, experience arts and culture, or just serve as a place to relax on a rainy day. Libraries are the end all, be all free center. In my towns library, over 500 people pass through the doors every day, excited to participate in fun free programs or even just feel assured that they will be welcomed and be able to find whatever they are looking for. I would hate to see these opportunities be taken away.
So as referenced in the beginning, let us contemplate the necessity, the importance and the fate of our public libraries.◊