I believe in libraries. I remember spending hours during the week at the public library as a kid with my brother and mother, and on the weekend with my brother and dad. Dad would sit and read the Wall Street Journal or Barrons while my brother and I would read or research anything we wanted about sports, storms, code-breaking, or fiction. It was always a comfortable and inviting place with a friendly, helpful staff.
In high school I went to the library to get away from everything. I could get away from home and friends, and just sit and study, or read. In college it was a place to meet friends and study, to work, or to escape into the minds of all of the great thinkers and writers throughout history. Today the library is a place where I look for books on tape to listen to while I’m driving to work, or to check my email when I’m out of town, or to find out what’s happening in my community.
The great thing about libraries is that what they offer has really never changed. They still offer a friendly and helpful atmosphere in which to learn. Sure now they have computers with internet access and online databases for searching full text magazine articles, but that’s the beauty of libraries. They have always brought people from all classes, from all geographical settings together in their ability to get access to information and learn.
Our libraries connect us to the outside world, to our own communities and government in ways that without them would never exist. Say you’re a high school kid in Nebo, North Carolina and you need to research the Taliban for a school paper. Well thanks to your local library you have full text access to every major newspaper and magazine in the country. You can even get books brought in from other libraries all over the world to help out if needed. What if you want to research a government housing project that went up in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1976. No problem, your library can get you all the government documents related to that.
Libraries play a very important role in how our country develops because they provide people with an opportunity to learn and educate and know about their community and government. Libraries have helped to broker the age of the internet by providing access, training, and creating a level of expectation in reliability and searchability of data. And libraries keep our governments’ activities open and free for its citizens to access and study. Libraries are not just the building sitting in downtown. They represent so much more for our society and culture. I believe in libraries and I hope that when you walk into your library in California you’ll remember that one day a few years back someone from North Carolina sat in there and was able to email friends, check maps for directions and just relax for a few minutes on a long drive.