Use and support them
By Amy Zullo
Special to The Knightly News
The internet has made books and other reading materials more accessible than ever, leading some people to believe that public libraries will soon be obsolete, but those people betting against libraries are wrong.
Libraries often have a reputation as places where everyone must be quiet and are watched over by the stern librarian ready to pounce on anyone who talks too loudly, or makes other noise that could disturb people working or reading in the library.
The truth is that while libraries can still offer places of quiet refuge, they also have events and meeting spaces where people can come together. Most librarians are very friendly and eager to help those who come through the doors.
Also, not everyone can afford internet access or to own a computer. Most public libraries have computers that allow patrons to access the internet. This access can be beneficial in many ways, such as increasing knowledge and skills, or searching for a job, creating a resume and applying for a job.
Many types of events are available at libraries. There are story times for children, book discussions for teens and adults, gatherings for people to play games together, or a place just to hang out with friends. If the library doesn’t offer a group you think you would like, then check with the staff about starting a new group. Librarians are frequently open to new ideas.
Public libraries are also a way to combat illiteracy by providing printed materials and other assistance. According to the U.S. Department of Education, about 130 million adults in the U.S. have low literacy skills. This means 54 percent of Americans between the ages of 16 and 74 read below the equivalent of an average sixth grader. Adults with poor reading skills tend to live in “print deserts” where few libraries and bookstores exist.
According to Think Impact, which provides data on education and career-related trends, low levels of literacy cost the U.S. $2.2 trillion each year. By supporting increased literacy, libraries can reduce economic loss and government-services costs, such as to support people who are underemployed or unemployed because they can’t read or read too poorly to find or to hold a job. Literate workers are more productive, which benefits everyone.
Libraries have a lot to offer the community. They should receive the support they need at local, state and national levels. People should also support public libraries by volunteering, donating money and materials, and using public libraries so that services they offer are retained.
So you know
Links to some public library systems in the Harrisburg Metropolitan Area appear below.
Also, check out online Central Penn’s Charles “T” Jones Leadership Library.
Zullo likes libraries. She wrote this opinion column as an assignment for Professor Michael Lear-Olimpi’s feature-writing class this term.
Comment or story idea? Contact KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.
Edited by media-club co-adviser and blog editor Professor Michael Lear-Olimpi.