The Reagan Library in California, the Long Hall in Ireland, the Library of Congress in Washington DC, the local library down your street… all of these places have one thing in common: they allow bodies of people to access information and achieve public discourse.
Since Benjamin Franklin’s first public lending library in the 1730s, libraries have been a quintessential part of society as a way for people to communicate and learn almost everything imaginable. As society changes and technology advances, it may seem as if libraries and their relevance are slowly fading; nevertheless, even as times change, libraries should still serve as a place in which people can visit to learn new information, develop a community, and achieve public discourse, in whichever way this may be reflected.
Libraries were initially founded for the purpose of sharing information resources — to this day, libraries should still serve that purpose. With changing technologies and old ways of finding information (like books and encyclopedias) present in our society today, libraries have the opportunity to allow access to information in more ways than ever possible before. Because of this, learning has evolved, and it is now easier than ever to look something up.
Instead of seeing this a negative side of society and a reason for which libraries are no longer relevant, libraries should take advantage of this and continue to provide services in which people can access information. Whether it be through their books or computers, libraries should still serve this purpose — without them, there would be nowhere for many people to go to learn and discover new things.
According to a study conducted by PBS, “for 22% of library computer users (age 14 and older), the library was their only source for access to computers and the Internet.”
For this reason, it is clear that libraries still serve as some people’s only access to information on a broader scale.
For primary school students looking up questions for a science project or adults trying to learn more about their favorite historical figure, libraries should and will always serve as the home of information for all people to have.
Not only this, but libraries serve as a place in different communities in which people can form bonds between one another and become apart of the local activity. For example, an Illinois public library’s schedule of events includes activities like story time with children, arts and crafts for toddlers, pilates, family dance parties, and more.
Today, it sometimes may seem as if families are growing further apart and no longer have the time or the want to spend time together. Libraries are filling the void that we see with activities that strengthen the relationships between others while also teaching them new things.
Unfortunately, funding for libraries is slowly decreasing as time goes on. Budget cuts for libraries at state and local levels have led public libraries to continuous budget-rebalancing and tough choices. For numerous reasons, the continuation of libraries is a crucial part of our society. The access to information, ability to learn, and opportunity for community activities should be provided to all — libraries should and will allow us to achieve such.