Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Libraries as Community Assets

My new mantra for the Otis Library, or rather my renewed emphasis is on the library as a community asset. That sounds obvious, but observing the state of libraries in other regions there seems to be a significant gap between the acknowledgment and substantive support. Among the more ominous signs of ambivalence: Recent articles on the gutting of the New Jersey library system, including, potentially, elimination of all statewide library programs and services; the closure of the Hood River Oregon Library system, after 98 years of continuous operation,the closure of two of the libraries serving Plainfield, Connecticut, recent turmoil in Pennsylvania, and articles with unsettling titles such as Why Closing More Public Libraries Might Be The Best Thing (...Right Now).
There was a time, not that long ago, when the answer to the question "are libraries community assets?" would have been unequivocally yes. However, if actions-like those cited above-speak louder than words, there is cause for concern. Some of this seems rooted in the glib assertion that everything is available on the Internet. I have addressed that in other blogs, and the arguments against that assumption have not changed. I would only add, to paraphrase a recent post by Delia Lloyd, the Internet is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to research skills.

1 comment:

ic-tim said...

Couldn't agree more! One of our board members (I work for a statewide muti-type online library consortium) talks about libraries as a "public utility" -- more than just an asset of the community, a library is an active, value-creating organization that improves communitites by impacting the lives of individuals.