I always vote yes on public school measures and support for local libraries. I believe that supporting institutions of literacy and learning make for a more civilized society.

But with our modern-day access to personal computers in homes and access to e-books, why in the world do we still need local libraries?

I’ll tell you.

1. Networks of Information

While many of us use a public library mostly for checking out books for our children and ourselves, there are amazing networks of information available. Reference librarians can lead you to journals, documents, research articles and all sorts of information that you’d never find just by googling a topic.

Plus, there is access to audio books, movies, informative DVD’s, and all manner of other reference materials.

2. Support for Learning at All Ages

Even small libraries offer support programs for all ages. There are story times and activities for young children, summer reading programs for school age children, places to study and hang out for teens and adult book groups, language instruction and more.

Many libraries offer book groups for all ages, author lectures, book signings with the opportunity to meet the authors in person and writing or literacy classes.

For most families, purchasing storybooks can be too costly. Using the library, children can access books at their appropriate reading and listening levels without having to buy them, choosing only a few favorites to keep on the home shelf.

3. Levels the Playing Field for All Income Levels

Not all families are able to provide computer and printer access in their homes. Libraries offer computer labs in which lower income families can access important information. They may apply for jobs, apply to colleges, or sign up for a variety of government and local benefits.

They may use the library computers to learn about medical treatments, study for language or driving tests… the list goes on and on.

4. Provides a Community Gathering Place

Many libraries provide small meeting rooms for local groups. They encourage students to use their spaces for group projects or individual study.

For adults the library is a “third place” to be in addition to work and home. It offers a safe and quiet place to be in our busy world.

The concept of a free, community space in which to access shared resources is a beautiful thing. Let’s not lose sight of the benefits our local libraries offer each and every family and be sure to check out the programs offered at your local branch library.