To the editor:
Before our recent election, I was interested to hear the lively discussions about economic development in Lawrence. At one of the candidate forums, there were a number of questions regarding our public library, which is has been one of the "hot" topics this year. I am writing to inform readers about a recent report published by the Urban Libraries Council (ULC). This report finds that the return on investment in public libraries benefits individuals, but also strengthens a community's capacity to address urgent issues related to economic development.
The purpose of their research was to encourage dialogue between planners, developers, elected officials, businesses and public libraries. Topics covered in the ULC report include improving early literacy and school readiness, strategies for building workforce participation, small business support through public libraries, and the ways that library facilities have a positive impact on downtowns, commercial areas and neighborhoods.
The plans that are currently under review have taken several of these variables into consideration, but it is my sincerest hope that we can somehow find a way to improve the physical plant of our public library and take advantage of other opportunities, as mentioned in the report. ("Making Cities Stronger: Public Library Contributions to Local Economic Development" is published on the Urban Libraries Council Web site, www.urbanlibraries.org, and underwritten by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation).