Libraries and Communities
Libraries build community. Libraries are uniquely local institutions that reflect and sustain their individual communities. Far more than collections of books, today's libraries are places to meet, use a computer, view an exhibit or get help with homework. Working in partnership with government, education, business and civic organizations, libraries of all types - public, school, college and university - provide services and programs that support literate, productive and informed communities.
- Libraries are great places for kids. Their collections and services are designed to inspire a lifelong love of reading and learning. In addition to books and other multimedia resources, public and school libraries offer storytimes, summer reading and after school programs, homework centers, computer camps and other enrichment activities. In its report "Untapped Potential: Community Programs for Youth," the Carnegie Corporation of New York cites libraries and parks as the only public sector agencies to focus on youth development rather than corrective action.
- Libraries bridge the "information divide". A Department of Commerce report cites public libraries as playing a critical role in making information technology accessible to all. For many adults, the public library is their first hands-on experience with a computer. In schools and colleges, libraries academic and public libraries teach students information literacy skills they will need to succeed in school and throughout life. Many public libraries provide instruction in word processing and Internet skills for parents, seniors and other adults as well as children.
- Libraries protect our right to know. As public forums for information, library policies and programs are designed to serve the wide range of needs and interests of people in their communities. Librarians are committed to defending the right to read.
- Libraries connect people with ideas, information and each other. Libraries of all types offer a wide range of programming to expand opportunities for cultural exchange. These include author visits, book discussions, exhibits, music and many other programs.
- Libraries are for everyone. One of our great democratic institutions, libraries provide people of all ages, beliefs, ethnic and financial backgrounds with the resources they need to learn and grow - through free library cards.
- Libraries support a productive workforce. For job seekers, libraries provide essential resources, whether it's researching job opportunities, learning how to write a resume or interview successfully. Libraries also provide invaluable resources for small businesses seeking to expand their markets and competitiveness. Many libraries offer special computer programs or classes to build employment and business skills.
- Libraries are community information centers. Almost every library has a collection of community resource materials. Many post information on their Web sites, bulletin boards and information racks. In addition, libraries and librarians provide many resources to help visitors access government services of many kinds.
- Libraries are a "port of entry". For many, the library is where they turn to learn more about their new community. For newcomers from other countries, many libraries offer English classes, foreign language collections and other services to help ease their transition.
- Libraries provide global reach and local touch. Libraries have always provided a "window on the world" through books and other materials. Today, thanks to the Internet, even the smallest library can provide almost instant access to great museums, libraries and other online information resources around the globe. Librarians are there to help visitors find the exact information they need.