Thursday, April 21, 2011

In The Spirit of National Library Week - A Guest Post On Why Libraries Are Important

National Library Week may be over, but the importance of preserving our libraries and utilizing them will always be a constant. So, in the spirit of NLW, I'm still going to go ahead and post this. I had been waiting on Mr. Alvin Bailey, an astute gentleman who is supervisor of my local library - a library that I make use of quite frequently - to send me his reasons on why they are important to our soceity.

On a personal note, pretty much fifty percent of the books that I read are checked out from this library (Denison Public Library) or the one in the next town over (Sherman Public Library), as my library is graciously able to receive books from them through a special courier system and also return them that same way, when they are due. They are also pretty amazing at ordering books when they have the budget to do so, if you aren't able to find one that you're wanting to read in the stacks. All you have to do is make a request and if it's not to unreasonable and usually if the book is still in print, they will order it and when it comes in they will contact you to let you know it's there.

I recently had the chance to speak with him about how important it is to utilize our libraries and I had positioned him about writing up a small two to three hundred words on why he felt they were not only essential, but benefitial to patrons who frequent them. So, in his own words, I'm going to let him tell you why we need our libraries and why they are so important. Please do me the honor of welcoming him, as a guest speaker.

Why We Need Public Libraries

As Written in Mr. Alvin Bailey's Own Words

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries - school, public, academic and special - participate.
As we celebrate National Library Week, public libraries in particular face fresh challenges. The Great Recession of 2008 has weakened both government and private support. Many in the public believe that the Internet is a reasonable substitute for public libraries. And many see a future where books are no more.

While the funding issues are true enough, the last two items are myths. The Internet is a valuable tool for distributing information and recreation, but it does not differentiate between fact and fiction or accuracy and currency. So, one must be a skilled information consumer to get the best out of it; or you go to an information professional such as a librarian. Or to put in other terms, all the laws are printed on the internet does that mean we do not need lawyers? Or all the medical information that a doctor has is available on the internet, does that mean we do not need doctors?

People frequently confuse books with reading. Books are the medium we have transmitted the printed word for over five hundred years. I believe they will be around for quite some time. But we do now have different ways to move print. In fact, these comments are written for an internet reading blog! Our society reads more than any in the history of civilization. The demands for reading and writing are increasing not decreasing. Libraries have a role to play in making accessible not just physical books, but information and recreational reading. Moreover, reading has become a much more interactive and engaging experience in the 21st Century as we can now read a story, and look up the setting, see a picture, and even verify a fact or two without too much effort.

Public libraries allow individuals to explore, learn, and create in each person’s unique direction. In the 21st Century we have some new tools, but no other organization celebrates the individual’s right to freely choose, decide, and inquire. And that is worth celebrating for everyone.

Thank you, Mr. Bailey for taking the time to make us all aware that our libraries are important and not only that, but the utilization of them. Thank you, also for making sure that the Denison Public Library is well stocked with books and a wonderful staff that is very helpful in making sure the patrons find what they are looking for or pointing them in the direction of the right person to speak in acquiring this information. You have made this library a great assett to this town and the patrons who frequent it quite regularly.

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