Celebrate Your Local Library
A brief look at the importance of libraries and their role in our communities.
Note: Originally published at blog.pearup.com on June 24, 2015.
A library is a place like no other. It is both a place for learning and for quiet reflection. A place for solitude but also for community. Whether it’s a small library in a school or small town, or a huge library in the big city — libraries are at the core of the communities we live in.
Recently, Toki Middle School and Whitehorse Middle School — two K12 organizations in Madison, WI, created Pears to raise funds to upgrade their Library Media Centers. Naturally, we are thrilled that they are seeking to renovate their learning spaces to better provide for the kids attending every day. It’s clear why they would want to improve them, too! A 2005 study by the Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMA) found that access to a good school library had a measurable, positive impact on student test scores. It’s accepted thinking that the higher the quality of the school library and the more often a student attends the library, the better their academic performance.
For these Middle Schools, transforming their libraries into 21st century learning hubs is a crucial aspect of development. These updates will allow each student to have access to an electronic device to facilitate their learning. They will have access to a 3D Printer, a green screen and film/recording equipment. These kind of upgrades do come at a cost, but they provide a vast array of options to students for learning and skill development.
It’s this type of service that highlights the importance of libraries, not just within our schools but within our communities. There are too many reasons to list on this subject, but we wanted to highlight some of them here:
Libraries Are The “People’s University”
We all have access to our local libraries. We live in a world where education and resources for education are increasingly expensive and a public or school library provides a huge boost to the amount of opportunities available to people of all ages to increase their learning and development. In the new Library Media Centers at Toki and Whitehorse — there will be a 3D Printer, as well as a variety of equipment for recording video and audio. 3D Printers cost thousands of dollars and are not likely to be found in many homes — being able to access this at a library for free, or at a small cost is a huge benefit. Many libraries also provide free classes or lectures on a regular basis, giving people access to a wider range of knowledge without the fees associated with higher education. Even for those who cannot physically visit a library there’s also the advent of the “digital library”. The public can access many materials for free, purely online. Options, options, options!
Libraries Champion Youth Development
Libraries can make a huge different to a young student’s life. Whether it’s purely being able to access equipment and resources they would not otherwise have access to, or from volunteering opportunities, internships, or homework help programs. They can create positive work experiences early on in life, and have a huge effect on a student’s academic performance. It’s surprising how few people are aware of the programs and opportunities available at their local library that can have a big impact on a child or teenager’s development both academically and professionally.
Libraries Adapt To Community Needs
Every community is different. As a result, every library is different, too. Sure, they all have books, but what about seed banks? The Richmond Public Library in Richmond, CA lends out seeds to members which “nurtures locally-adapted plant varieties, and fosters community resilience, self-reliance and a culture of sharing.” Another example would be the Iowa City Public Library which allows members to loan framed posters and original artwork through an “Art-to-Go” program. There are countless examples of this type of community-specific program throughout the USA. If your community has a need or a speciality, there’s a high chance that your local library caters to it!
There are so many more reasons why libraries are places to cherish and support, but then I’d be in danger of writing the longest article of all time. We’re very proud to have provided a platform for Toki and Whitehorse Middle Schools to raise funds toward their LMC renovations and we hope that their revamped libraries enrich the lives of their students for a long time to come. For everyone else out there: pay a visit to your local library — you never know what you might learn!
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