This past weekend, our long-awaited new branch library finally opened. We’ve been waiting more than seven years for it to be built. The old branch that it replaces has been closed for many years.
Situated right next to our fire station, it is the new hub for our community here in northeast Greensboro. There were many projects that bumped the library down the city’s “to-do” list over the years, but it is here now.
The grand opening was so well attended, I couldn’t get anywhere near it on its opening day. When I visited on the following day, I saw a 21st century space full of light and open spaces and people.
Yes, there are books. But there are also desktop computers, collaboration and meeting rooms, an imaginative pirate ship for the children’s section, a bank of laptops that can be checked out, a reading room with a hologram fire and a lovely outdoor garden reading space, a place to buy and enjoy coffee is not quite operational yet, but the 3-D printer is. A man and his young sons were demonstrating how to make chess pieces while I was there.
So why do we still need public libraries?
- It’s the only access to computers and the Internet for some. They use them to find work, research opportunities, and connect with the outer world.
- Libraries often provide training for technology – using your smartphone, how to design and create important document and now…how to create 3-D objects – a new technology that will have infinite applications to 21st century living.
- Students find help with their homework.
- For many children the books at school and the public library are the only books they ever see…and it’s essential for them to have access to books in order to learn how to read.
- Children and adults meet for tutoring sessions at the library – ESL, reading and math – all essential skills.
- Libraries provide meeting space for community organizations.
- People still enjoy finding, reading, and chatting about books, magazines, and movies that they love.
- Patrons and users of all ages learn how to become lifelong learners.
In short, libraries are community hubs that enrich local residents and help change lives by putting the opportunity to learn new things within the reach of everyone whether they have a library card or not.
There’s no time limit in the library. You can spend an hour or you can spend the day.
Libraries are the gateway to the information economy. And lifelong learning is the currency of the global age.
Literacy is still shockingly low in our country. At risk children can spend their school years locked out of meaningful learning because they can’t read proficiently. And they grow up into adults who are denied work opportunities because they can’t read and write well enough to hold down a job.
Libraries and the people in them make the world a better place everyday by supporting readers and learners as they access information that changes lives.
How do you support your local library?
Photo Credit: Dan Acker