The need for libraries in a connected world

One of the magical and essential functions of public libraries is they provide users basically free access to information and opportunity. As much as people want to talk about the impact of e-books and the like on libraries, this has not changed. If anything, it may be growing more important, as evidenced by a recent comment card left at one of the branches of the Siouxland Libraries.

The library user lost her job. For whatever reason, she no longer had a computer readily available and, likewise, no internet access. She began using the free computers at the branch library to update her resume and apply for jobs. Her comment card wanted to simply thank the library staff because this allowed her to land her “dream job.” Now she’s not only already doing some work for her new employer, she is using the library computers to find a place to live in the city in which the job is located.

Who knows cares how many books, e-books or DVDs she checked out on her trips to the library? It doesn’t matter. The library gave her free and reliable access to information and tools that changed her life. So the next time you might wonder whether libraries have any future in a digital age, remember ink and paper are just one of the numerous ways they enhance and improve our lives.

Libraries are the key to ensuring that the divide between information rich and poor is kept as narrow as possible

Australian Sen. Lyn Allison

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