Magazine article American Libraries

President's Message: Libraries Matter Because People Believe in Them

Magazine article American Libraries

President's Message: Libraries Matter Because People Believe in Them

Article excerpt

Why Libraries Matter" is a theme that strikes at the heart of what we strive to relay to the public, to legislators, and to each other. It certainly touches on how we encourage people to join the profession and to motivate them to stay, and on how we convince donors that their dollars will be well spent by investing in community-building, environment, education, and lifelong learning through library services.

From "Libraries Change Lives" and "Libraries Build Communities" to "@ your library," we have tried to express what libraries mean to those we serve. Librarians enumerate the value of their work in a variety of settings--city- and county-council hearings, presentations to civic groups, legislative testimony, and while soliciting much-needed dollars and other resources from private donors. We use anecdotes, videos, PowerPoint presentations, statistics, and countless lists that sometimes overwhelm those we aim to impress.

We reiterate this information because libraries really do matter to those we serve--people from all walks of life. Libraries matter because they enhance the educational enterprise at every level, they give organizations a competitive edge, and they seed community development. Libraries matter because they offer sanctuary and salvation, opportunities and enrichment, and--one of my favorite descriptive phrases--solutions and delights.

At my home institution in Baltimore, our residents have shared a variety of library stories: "I met my mate at the library," "I couldn't have made it without the library," "I went from special education to Phi Beta Kappa because of my experience at the library." One student wrote to me to reveal his personal library story: "I go to the library when things aren't good at home, which is pretty often." Even when we were forced to reduce services, our residents consistently told us that the library, despite its low usage and declining circulation, was a key neighborhood symbol. When residents expressed their deep affection and aspirations for the library, our elected officials became keenly aware of the important role our community libraries play and, most important, how strongly people feel about what libraries mean to them. …

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