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Supporting local libraries keeps knowledge democratic

Posted on February 1, 2022 by 40 Mile Commentator

Libraries continue to provide spaces for people to explore and engage, even in the digital age. They are safe haven from the constant expectation of consumerism. No one expects you to spend any money when you visit, and libraries remains one of the few public spaces where this is the case. They are institutions which often foster community-building with their diverse programming. With everything from improving digital literacy for seniors, to learning new skills, to after-school programming and clubs, libraries are spaces where people are able to invest in themselves and their community. For many people, libraries offer access to new art, new ideas, and new opportunities. They are not simply spaces which facilitate book lending; they are an equalizer in communities which allow democratic access to knowledge, technology, and community.

Libraries are spaces of abundance, but often are underfunded or sometimes even under-utilized by the community at large. When you support your public library, you are facilitating access to a community space which is not inherently tethered to being as profitable as possible. Instead, these spaces exist to encourage literary engagement and support zealous curiosity, mindfulness, and equity. Libraries give young artists and writers access to a space which validates their interests, allowing them to imagine a future where their ideas and contributions could function and serve communities outside of themselves.

Despite this, libraries are often forced to balance the need for new materials or new technology, with just keeping their lights on. Even some of the libraries in our region, which rely on in-person fundraising methods which have been limited or eliminated due to the ongoing pandemic have been forced to make hard choices with reduced funding. This, over time, can limit the overall impact the library has on the community, especially if they are worried about running in a deficit, or are unable to acquire the materials people are interested in. As libraries have adapted to include digital editions and expand their scope and programming, there is almost something for every kind of person. Memberships are accessibly priced, so much so, that even one visit to your local or regional library is often more cost-effective than purchasing a new book. For such a small buy-in, libraries can continue to provide an equitable space which benefits so many community members.

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