As a child, some of my favorite memories were made in my small town’s library. Whether I was curled up on the comfy chairs engrossed in a book, or engaging in the many programs offered by the children’s librarians, the library has always been a safe place for me to learn and explore my passions. Now, as a high school student, it remains a place that is still relevant to my needs today.
Such a diverse range of individuals depend on public libraries to help them with anything from checking out books to attending free classes of their interests to creating a supportive environment to learn and grow.
For communities, libraries offer a free space for people of all demographics access resources that may not be available to them otherwise. As a powerful force in society, libraries have the ability to cater to the needs and wants of the people as well as reflect the priorities and values of the community.
There are, however, some threats facing libraries today. Not only is technology becoming more abundant and complex, the political atmosphere we have entered is not supportive of the funding essential to making these facilities run smoothly, despite their positive influence on the quality of lives across the country.
The new GOP budget proposal for 2019, according to the American Library Association, “eliminates funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). IMLS provides more than $183.6 million for libraries through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The proposal also eliminates funding for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program, a Department of Education program that provides $27 million for school libraries.
It is imperative for so many people that funding for libraries is not decreased in the drastic way that has been proposed.
Sarah Sellon, Director of the Ely Public Library, says, “Libraries provide access to information, classes and leisure opportunities to all people – regardless of age, gender, background or however else we want to categorize people. We strive to provide what our community wants or needs for information and if we do not have it, we will find it for them.”
Because funding is heavily based on user statistics, the best way to support public libraries is to use them in any way you can. Their purpose is to enrich the lives of people, so don’t be hesitant to take advantages of the many opportunities presented by having access to one.
Libraries have so much to offer, but services that are beneficial to high school students are often underutilized or not well known. Some of these include: access to free ACT/SAT prep, online databases for research, reading programs, volunteer hours, and many different courses and classes.
“I love working with my community and providing quality materials, information, classes, and events for them,” Sellon said, “I love that our library is the hub of our town.”
Libraries are a positive force that brings people together. They offer an environment that celebrates learning and provides so many services for those of all ages. It’s become increasingly important to be aware of how this major political shift is impacting funding and support for these wonderful establishments. Libraries are so important in this age and we must not take them for granted.
When was the last time you visited your school or town library? Find some time to check it out – the opportunities may surprise you.