Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Library Not County’s Top Priority

Are they ever? Article from the Eastern Arizona Courier. In this case a new jail takes priority over general library funding. I think most people would agree that municiplaties would more likely fund basic critical services first and non-essential services next. (If you did not catch that, most people in municipalities will refer to libraries as non-essential. Everyone should work to change that in their communities as a library with better services will reduce your crime rate, increase the academic success of youth and adults, and provide better people to perform jobs, services, and other items the community will benefit from.)

Many organizations will try to find other ways to fund a library: having a board of trustees where they have a secondary tax fund the library (typically known as a millage), or have more funding from a county system (which is already funded from the millage), or even pull in a private company (LSSI). It is important that libraries are funded and made a higher priority. The perception of libraries as a place of dusty old bookshelves needs to change to the reality of more up-to-date access to information and the latest books. Libraries need to market themselves and change perceptions. It is also important to address those old perceptions by making a joke out of that known perception in order to challenge it:

*When you hear the word library, many people think of dusty shelves and librarians in frumpy clothes shushing. If you go into your local library today, you would find that stereotype is far from the case. The library is a buzzing hive of activity with the latest books for recreational reading, lifelong learning, resume writing, genealogy and so much more. The library provides many different services, a safe and engaging place for teens, literacy skills for a strong workforce, center for community information, and a greater access to technology. *

We need to make it so we see less articles like that in Eastern Arizona Courier and more positive articles on what we are doing instead of just how we are defending our existence. In the article, the funding authority was under the impression that we just have books. We need to advertise what we are doing above and beyond that.

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