The Value of our Library
As librarians, we see our impact on our communities and neighbors every day. After school programs that allow teens to explore and experiment with new technologies. Unemployed workers using library computers to search for and apply for jobs. People using email and social networks to connect with their friends and family. These services, and others offered at Ericson Public Library have a profound impact on our community, showing that in an age of smart phones and Google, public libraries are still valuable.
And it is not just locally that the answer is a resounding yes, as demonstrated this fall when researchers from the Pew Internet and American Life project asked Americans in a national poll what value they derive from public libraries and how their library benefits their community. The top findings in the report, titled How Americans Value Public Libraries in their Communities, demonstrate that public libraries continue to enrich communities and provide all users the tools and opportunities to succeed:
- Americans value public libraries as institutions that enrich and their communities: Nine out of 10 Americans say closing their public library would impact their community and 94 percent believe that having a public library improves the quality of life in a community.
- Libraries afford communities access to information and resources that they may have a hard time finding elsewhere: 95 percent of Americans agree that the materials and resources available at public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed.
- Library services are especially valued by marginalized and underserved communities: Minorities, women, and adults living in low-income households place the greater value on public library services. For example, 56 percent of adults living in low-income households say libraries are very important in terms of providing youth programs.
Just last year the value our library brought to the community was over three million dollars based on the American Library Association’s “library value calculator” that calculates this figure by averaging the prices of typical library services, materials and resources used by members in our community. This is essentially a financial value that shows the funding we receive in turn provides three million worth of services to the community. The library offers something for everyone and has a transformational force in the lives of Boone’s citizens.
While Americans understand the value of public libraries, there is still work to done in helping more neighbors, patrons and community members understand the full range of services their libraries provide. For example, only 23 percent of people who have visited a public library know most or all of the services that are offered including classes to boost computer skills, children’s literacy programs, and resume building support.
At a time when many people think Internet access is ubiquitous, three out of ten adults in the U.S. lack a home broadband connection, meaning that public libraries continue to play an important role in bridging the digital divide. The Ericson Public Library is reaching the Boone community through the following programs and services:
- Free internet and computer use along with free wi-fi
- Outreach to daycares, preschools, nursing homes, senior centers and retirement communities
- Library programs like storytime for children, engaging events for teens and technology workshops for adults and interactive experiences for the whole family
- Wonderful online resources available free anytime, anywhere for research or leisure
How do you benefit from the Ericson Public Library? Are there new services you would like to see?
To learn more about our programs and community engagement, please visit our website www.boone.lib.ia.us or stop by at 702 Greene Street.