Get to know your library
Next Tuesday, residents will have the opportunity to vote on their library’s budget and candidates for trustee at their local library. Based on the turnout in previous years, not many are expected to be there that day. Some won’t venture there any day, for that matter. That’s a shame. These significant institutions, which have evolved into important community centers, have a lot going on.
Libraries, which date back to ancient times, became public in this country in the late 19th century. In doing so, it opened up a whole new world to a growing population holding volumes of knowledge at one’s fingertips and at no cost, except through taxation and government allocations. That’s a system that hasn’t changed much through the centuries. What has changed, however, is how the library functions.
Circulation of printed material in our local area is reportedly stable. But in a new online world, where much of that printed information can be garnered by clicking a few keys on a computer, libraries have also conformed to meet those needs.
But beyond materials – both hard copy and online – the library has further adapted to changing times. They are now meeting places for a number of community groups such as civic associations and historical societies. They provide children’s programming from a summer reading curriculum for all ages to fun activity classes and games. Adult programs teach new skills such as how to make a holiday wreath or learn a different language. It’s a place for teens, young mothers and senior citizens to meet up with friends to see a movie or join an exercise class. Many libraries offer patrons discounted short trips to historic places or to see a Broadway play. Yes, there’s a whole new character to library programing that many might still not realize exists.
Some of these facilities offer job-search training and teach how to prepare a resume. And now a few of them are becoming U.S. Passport application centers as well.
Check your tax bill. The cost of having so many resources is nominal. And since libraries have been adhering to the NYS imposed 2 percent tax cap, any annual increase proposed this year is less than $10 for most districts, and some of them are less than $5. That’s less than what one could easily pay daily for coffee. In fact, a few libraries are planning on offering coffee to patrons in the future, too.
So, next Tuesday, head on out to your library and show support for this great institution. And after you vote, stay a while and get to know all yours has to offer.
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