Times are always changing, and libraries make it their business to change along with them. Libraries have never been mere rooms full of books – that stereotype overlooks both the value of the contents of the books and the expertise of library staff – and in today’s world libraries are so much more.
Ongoing demand for traditional resources is met by collections designed to meet information needs and introduce communities to new artists and new ideas. Libraries have everything from classics to bestsellers, from documentaries to blockbusters. In Saskatchewan, we have the good fortune to have a one-of-a-kind shared system that spans the province, connecting more than 300 libraries and providing millions of items. A library card provides access to every one of those libraries, from anywhere in the province, with no fees or service charges.
Libraries also provide an ever-growing roster of digital resources. Through the portal of a library website, anyone can access ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, music and movies. Newcomers to our communities can access newspapers and magazines from their home countries, as well as collections of books in many languages besides English. Computers and Internet access are available to the many individuals who do not have private access to such technology.
Libraries are staffed with competent, knowledgeable, helpful staff members, who are dedicated to providing services that meet individual needs. In addition to helping bookworms find that next great read, they help people stay in touch with distant friends and relatives, they supervise exams for long-distance learners and they help people develop new skills through offering programs and resources.
Library services are particularly vital to those who are struggling in the difficult economic times. Many individuals use libraries to help them apply for jobs and provide resources for their families that they can no longer afford to buy. Libraries also have a significant impact on those left behind by the shift to digital services. Many people need both access to the Internet and support in using it in order to apply for anything from identification to benefits to hunting licenses.
Libraries partner with other service organizations to make sure programs and resources reach those who need them most. Whether they’re providing children’s books to low-income families or teaching basic computer skills to individuals with cognitive disabilities, libraries break down barriers and provide access to information to all.
It is when times are tough that libraries face the greatest demands for their resources. Libraries need adequate funding to continue offering the plethora of programs and services that meet the needs of today’s communities.
Lakeland Library Region Board