The public library can serve as a ‘popular university’, enriching what we have learned in the classroom
Today I saved $ 300 on my household entertainment budget. No, we haven’t stopped our Netflix subscription or canceled any fun family plans. Instead, I used the library!
The Massachusetts Library Association developed a “Library Service Value” calculator, in which I entered everything I could borrow in a typical week. Books for the whole family, a DVD or two, digital audiobooks, and an Explorer Pass for the High Desert Museum. The calculator does not include other items that you can now find at the Crook County Library, such as our robotics and construction kits, telescopes, or loanable tech kits which will be available soon.
This open access to information is one of the things that brought me to librarianship as a career; I like the idea that the public library can serve as a “people’s university”. Author Ta-Nehisi Coates shared similar feelings about libraries in 2017, stating, “The pursuit of knowledge was freedom for me, the right to declare your own curiosities and to follow them through all kinds of books. . I was made for the library, not the The classroom was a prison for the interests of others. The library was open, endless, free. Slowly, I discovered myself.
While I certainly support formal education, the fact remains that the public library offers material to develop and enrich what we have (or maybe not) learned in the classroom.
With all of these resources at our fingertips, why do we see people abandoning the use of libraries? Almost every time I work with the public at the library information desk, I speak with someone who says shamefully, “I’m sure I have so many overdue fines, that’s why I don’t. haven’t been there for so long. It is my joy these days to proclaim, “We don’t do late fines!” Usually there is a moment of surprise followed by gratitude that this barrier to service no longer exists.
Fines and fees collected by the Crook County Library represent less than 1% of our operating revenues; we are primarily funded by county property taxes. The library belongs to our community just as much as our law enforcement and our parks, and this is what drives my commitment to removing other barriers, real and perceived, in the service of the library.
The library’s 2019-2024 strategic plan sets out several objectives related to increasing access to our services; we seek to improve physical accessibility, we strive to reach underserved populations, including those who may be housebound or who speak a language other than English, we work to increase access to technology and we widely promote the principles of early literacy to local families.
Upcoming initiatives to achieve these goals include the use of grants to translate parts of our website and select policy documents into Spanish, a pilot project called Words on Wheels that will provide library materials to clients unable to visit our building. and the launch of loanable technological kits. which will allow customers to borrow laptops, tablets and WiFi hotspots for use at home.
If you haven’t visited the library in a while, what’s holding you back? If you have any obstacles, I would like to know more. Come see us or give me a call, I’m ready to listen to you and see how we can help you.
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