By Adam Kraft
Public libraries. You likely have some fond memories from your childhood going to a public library and seeing all of the books there. Some of you might go to a library often, while others haven’t gone for years. If I were you, however, I’d go to one now before they are all gone. Okay, that might have been a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is that many public libraries are receiving less funding from the government, which greatly impedes their ability to, well, be a library.
Through my three years of working in a public library, I have found that a public library is a vital organ in the body of a town. Not only do people come to the library to get books for entertainment, they also come to learn and develop their minds. The library is a great place for children of all ages. The Ericson Public Library (EPL) in Boone, Iowa is a great example of how a library can help children. The EPL holds an annual summer reading program that gets kids to read by giving them prizes when they complete certain reading goals. Not only does the library help the children, it helps the parents of the children. Too often do I see families come to the library because they simply don’t have any other place to entertain themselves.
Off the topic of children, the library is an essential place for those who don’t have a computer. In this day and age, a computer is an essential part of daily life. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to have a computer as well as internet. The public library often grants it’s patrons access to computers.
Finally, one of the most important part of the library is the staff. It is often said that librarians are the most overlooked tool in the library. I would stand behind that claim. I’ve helped people with tech questions, to research questions, to even more odd events. Once I spent about an hour and a half helping a couple with a computer problem who only spoke Russian.
If I had to compare a library to anything… it would be a Swiss army knife. There are books available for free, access to computers for free, access to the internet for free, programs for your entertainment for free, and knowledgeable staff on duty at all times to answer any question you might have. If public libraries vanished from our cities, it would be like losing your big toes. They might seem insignificant and get overlooked often, but they are essential for proper function of any community. That is why we must all help and support our local libraries.
Many small libraries are experiencing budget cuts, affecting the entire community. These budget cuts cut a variety of things. The library staff is forced to take less hours, decreasing their effectiveness. The library itself is also having hour cuts. In the month of July, the library will be closing an extra two hours later on Saturdays.
The libraries need our help! It’s easy to show your support without spending money there. All you have to do is get a library card (it’s free), go to the library, and discover for yourself that the library is honestly one of the best places you can go (and maybe write a letter to your local government talking about how libraries are important and how they should stop decreasing funding).
My name is Adam J. Kraft. I am finishing my AS degree in the summer of 2017 and moving on to major in physics at Wartburg College. I have worked at the Ericson Public Library in Boone Iowa for three years and love it. I also love doing anything that involves working with my hands. This column was written as part of a leadership assignment in the Honors Capstone seminar.