During recession times such as we’ve been experiencing this past year or so, library usage tends to increase. And why not? Libraries offer services for free to members of the community.
Years ago, a library meant only one thing—books! Lots of books! The library offered a path to the wonderful world of reading, and it still serves that purpose in 2010.
Today’s library offers more than books, although they are still the primary service. Now, they also have computer areas, music CD’s, DVD movies, large print books, Talking Books for the visually handicapped, a large variety of magazines. Research possibilities galore, meeting rooms available to the community, and numerous reading activity programs for youngsters and grown-ups, too. Even artwork may be checked out, taken home where the library patron can enjoy them for a short time.
Even though library usage has increased, libraries are dealing with funding cuts in nearly all our states. It’s difficult to serve the community with less money. I serve on the Board of Trustees at my own community library, and I know how difficult it is to prepare budgets with less funding and more needs. Those two items have a way of never achieving that balance we’d like to see. We have contingency funds for emergencies, and when operating a large facility, there always seem to be emergencies with heating or air-conditioning systems and various other building problems. Librarians and the trustees are constantly concerned with being able to serve the community in the best way possible with the resources they have.
What can you, the library patron, do to help? Consider a memorial gift to the Library Foundation if there is one. Join the Friends group. Your membership allows this group of supportive people to fund many programs your library might not be able to afford otherwise. If your library has a volunteer program, give some of your time. Good volunteers allow libraries to operate well and afford staff needed time.
If you haven’t visited your local library in a long time, do it one day soon. You might be surprised at the treasures that await you there.