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Technology is changing rapidly, and therefore so are people's needs. But the point of a library is not (in my opinion), to do its "library thing" with no consideration to the needs and desires of the community. The fact is that as the world changes, libraries change too, and strong libraries in strong communities will never become obsolete because they will always grow to meet their users' needs.
That said, if you really feel like the library isn't serving you, why not get involved? A new library is a great opportunity to voice an opinion on what roles and services you would like the library to provide. How about a large meeting room to host community activities? The Princeton Public Library opened its facilities to host the World Cup and became a great place for community to come together and enjoy the sport (via <a href="http://tametheweb.com/2006/07/the_place_in_town_to_watch_soc.html">Tame the Web</a>). Computer instruction in libraries often helps those people in the community who would otherwise have no idea what to do with free technology if you did give it to them at their homes.
What about after-school programs? Summer Reading programs? What about families who love to read and bring their kids in once a week to check out literally hundreds of books?
If none of that appeals to you, and you have other ideas of what you'd like to see, then I guarantee you your library would love to hear from you. In the end, that's what libraries do: they serve their communities. And hey, some people don't use libraries, and that's fine, but we should still look at them in a broader context and see how, as educational and community institutions, they provide a great deal of value to our communities.
Finally, a lot of people say how great libraries were to use when they were growing up. Now that they're adults they don't use them anymore. I guarantee though that there are still a lot of kids and families out there that are getting a great deal of value out of the library. Plenty of adults, having grown up and having no children, have no personal need for schools anymore either, but no one questions their roles in the community. Libraries are just as important, because they're schools where anyone can go, at any time, for any reason. And what could possibly be cooler than that?
October 3, 2006 at 7:59 p.m.
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