4 Reasons Why You Should Support Your Local Library
With municipalities struggling to stay afloat financially, public libraries are among the first institutions to feel the pinch.
At least 19 states have cut funding to community libraries in the last year according to the American Library Association. More than half reported reductions greater than 10%, and in many places, state-level cuts are compounded by similar cuts at the local level.
Increasingly, it's falling to local library boosters to cobble together funding and devote time and energy to keeping facilities open.
Perhaps the ease and ubiquity of technology has tempered your reliance on these long-cherished institutions. But local libraries continue to provide an array of key services to community members. (See also: Duh...Libraries)
Here are four reasons why you should consider supporting libraries.
They Spur Economic Investment
It might sound strange to think of libraries as an investment, but studies indicate they're crucial economic engines. A Univeristy of Pennsylvania study found that the Philadelphia library created more than $30 million worth of economic value for the city in fiscal year 2010. A key stat among the findings — nearly 9,000 businesses wouldn't have been started or nurtured without resources respondents first acquired at the Free Library of Philadelphia. “Until now, there hasn’t been a way to know exactly how much we help in dollars and cents,” FLP President and Director Siobhan A. Reardon said in a news release. “We’re an integral economic engine for the city of Philadelphia.”
They Help People Find Jobs
Public libraries offer a suite of free resources to help unemployed or under-employed citizens find gainful employment. Free classes boost education or even teach people how to craft a resume or prepare for an interview. Free Internet access and computer usage allows people to hunt for jobs, interact with potential employers, and prepare applications.
They Help Working Women
Women are far more likely than men (72% versus 58%) to have visited a library in the last year, according to the ALA. Working women, working mothers, and women aged 18 to 54 are the most likely to fall in that group. Those same demographics are also likely to have a library card.
They Open Doors to Education and Entertainment
Public libraries host free book clubs and movie nights, and even have passes for local museums so that card holders can avoid entrance fees. They offer free or inexpensive computer courses, language courses, writing courses, and even after-school learning programs for children.
Public libraries are an economic and social lifeline for millions of Americans, and there are myriad ways to help libraries, from making donations to writing letters of support to elected officials.