Closing Libraries?

Closing Libraries

From: published on Thursday August 2, 2018

An article has been making its way across the internet about public libraries. The author attempted to make the argument that public libraries in communities across the country should be closed and that Amazon Books and shops like Starbucks, that provide internet for customers, should take over the role that libraries have historically played in our communities. He asserts many of the services that libraries provide are now made redundant because of the private services that exist throughout our communities and that libraries aren’t worth the money.

This struck a nerve with many people around the country, from librarians to citizens, to parents and teachers and many more – and rightfully so. Many people may not know this but, the Arizona Secretary of State’s office oversees our state libraries. For that reason, I have been able to see firsthand the difference libraries make in our communities. Libraries are so much more than a place to check out a book. They are community centers, they offer after-school learning programs, and they offer a quiet place with free internet for someone who may not be able to afford to buy themselves a cup of coffee in order to use Starbuck’s wifi.

These libraries provide programs, not available elsewhere, provide services to thousands of people throughout our state and better the lives and learning experiences for countless people. My office has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants every year to libraries that develop innovative programs that fit the needs of their individual communities with funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Service. Over the course of distributing these funds, I have had the opportunity to see how much these libraries mean to their community and how much they and the unique programs they operate affect and help people.

For example, the Yuma County Library District recently received one of these grants. Their grant provides resources for the physically and developmentally disabled. It will now be able to open a Special Needs Resource Center equipped with English and Spanish books and learning aids; purchase bilingual communication devices for the nonverbal and deaf community, and purchase assistive technology for meeting rooms and classrooms for patrons with visual and hearing impairments.

This is just one glaring example of how closing libraries would negatively impact members of our community. It is also an example of how the services that these libraries provide to the members in this specific example are not offered by places like Starbucks or even Amazon. It would be wholly irresponsible and devastating to our communities to close libraries.

Michele Reagan

Secretary of State

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