Public libraries are in jeopardy

Jada Caldwelll, Staff Reporter

For some, the necessity of public libraries is somehow still up for debate. This is despite the fact that public libraries provide many people with access to a wide range of information, to the internet and to technology, not just books.

Public libraries take the back burner to digital technologies, and that prompts some to question whether or not they should play a role in the future. Dating back to the John Zenger case of 1785, freedom of the press was held in high regard. Why? Because newspapers and magazines kept and today still keep people informed about what is going on in their city, state, nation and world. Public libraries hold the same role, the role of an informative source, a role that will always be a necessity.

The community bulletin boards in the lobbies of libraries still function to inform the public of what is happening in their community. For instance, calendars posted in local libraries keep citizens updated on upcoming events, from the town music festival this weekend to the boys’ little league tournament next month. And many patrons don’t have access to this information elsewhere.

Through youth and parent story time gatherings, through adult classes and interest groups, through diverse citizens using the library as a common dominator, unity in a town is born. Community libraries create and nurture communities.

Librarians are also a free well of knowledge and contribute to the overall success of students and adults. To find their desired information, all patrons have to do is ask and wait to be assisted.

Moreover, a 2012 study done by Pew Research Center shows that 23 percent of library computer users have no other way to access the internet. Furthermore, in just our school roughly 25-30 percent of the student body are unable to access the internet at home.

In recent years classes have gone digital and access to the internet is almost a course requirement. Assignments typically done with paper and a pencil are now being completed and submitted online or through apps. What are the 27 percent of our students supposed to do to complete these online assignments? Go to a public library.

In their 2015 report, the American Library Association stated that libraries are “no longer just places for books, libraries of all types are viewed as anchors, centers for academic life and research and cherished spaces.”

Personally, I did not have the luxury to complete online assignments at home when I was a freshman or a sophomore, but I was able to go and get assigned work done at the library.

Also, AP classes demand a variety of books. A 2012 study done by Pew Charitable Trust revealed that the percentage of people over the age of sixteen that can get a print book quickly is 13 percent compared to a whopping 83 percent for E-books. Public libraries promptly supply aspiring youth with books for school while further stimulating a love of literature for many. Last year alone I read 156 books only because I was able to borrow books from the library.

Furthermore, libraries like NCSU’s James B. Hunt Jr. Library might hint at another future of libraries as ways for people to access 3D printers, which are valuable to all age groups. People that couldn’t otherwise afford it can make prototypes to test and distribute their new product design, or make replacement parts for devices at home, or create new clothes. The possibilities are endless.

One can conclude that as long as there are people who do not have in-home access to the internet and cannot afford neither print nor e-edition books, public libraries will always be necessary in the betterment of the human race.