Public Libraries

The need for public library access is ever increasing. Its main function as a useful community information resource has now expanded as more patrons are entering public libraries for other purposes. Public libraries across the country have well-adapted to the digital age, thus making these institutions a haven for those who desire to increase their educational literacy as well. Public libraries are now serving a myriad of functions and are delivering a variety of new services to the community.
The new roles that are being assumed by a public library system and its personnel have made them one of the most important places within communities. Although this is the case, state and local government officials are reducing the budget being provided to central public library offices and corresponding branches, thus making it impossible for community members to achieve their personal goals which ultimately result in positive social change.
 US Public Libraries now serve four major functions namely:

  • Rich source of information
  • Supply educational materials to both the young  and old patrons
  • Deliver recreational activities that instill positive values and useful information to community members
  • Commonplace for cultural exercises that both entertain and educate people

These inherent tasks and responsibilities of public libraries have made them ideal places for community members of all ages. And with the digital age at our doorstep, yet a new set of responsibilities rest on the shoulders of public library officials and employees.

  • Highly-accessible, free Internet access to all patrons
  • Reliable source of modern learning materials and educational resources
  • Assist unemployed members of the community in securing government benefits
  •  Conduct computer classes for both the children and adults
  • Facilitate Information Technology training programs for the community
  • Help unemployed members of the community in applying for jobs online
  • Aid those seeking for employment in the creation of well-structured resumes
  • Lend a helping hand to members of the youth in furnishing their college applications

Looking through these new functions that the public library assumes, it is quite obvious that people are actually gravitating towards the public library when it comes to online literacy and assistance. Fortunately, local and state offices have realized the need to adapt to technological changes and have successfully reorganized the public library system ten years ago. However due to the recent economic downturn, free Internet access in public libraries is fast declining.
Budget cuts have made it impossible for a larger number of people with no Internet access at home to seek jobs and request for help from online resources. Although a large majority of communities across the country are still open to the public, the budgetary cuts are making it hard for public library personnel to provide their services all at the same time. This is highly evident in the shortened operating hours of public libraries; be it central office or its smaller branches. Resolving this dilemma right away has been the mission of the American Library Association together with public officials and patrons.
Social awareness about the functions and importance of a public library is becoming common in recent years. Listed below are the integral functions that public libraries assume and the positive results that have resulted from such endeavors.

  • Intellectual freedom

The library plays a crucial role in establishing democracy. The rich stock of information that patrons can find inside public libraries have made them conscious of their rights to freedom of expression and their rights to free education. Literacy makes it possible for community members to express both their ideas and grievances. Education also inspired a large majority of people to pursue activities that will help them improve their social status and enable them to help the nation towards progress and development.

  • Integral element to the education process

Educational and informational resources that can be found in public libraries come in a variety of formats. Books are not the only learning materials that can be found in public libraries in recent years. Aside from written books, magazines, and manuscripts, patrons are given access to the following resources as well:

  • e-Books
  • Audio books
  • Educational CDs and DVDs
  • Cassette tapes
  • Informational videos

The equity of access makes it possible for public libraries to provide all these resources to members of the community regardless of age, race, and social status.

  • Instrument of Social Change

Community services that are being organized and facilitated by public libraries are geared towards community participation and positive social change. Some of the activities and projects that public libraries most commonly launch are:

  • Reader development projects through language learning, student homework assistance, free lectures on relevant social and cultural topics
  • Cultural performances of different groups living within the community. These performances reflect the level of learning and literacy that patrons and participants are developing from joining community projects hosted by public libraries
  • Preschool story times that are given to children as part of the early literacy program.
  • Books club meetings that facilitate socialization. Adults who participate in book clubs further their appreciation of literature and the arts as well.
  • Mobile library service to rural communities. Residents who live far from central or branch public libraries are given the opportunity to borrow books and materials through trucks that go to their neighborhood.

Without adequate funding from the government and donations from NGOs and privately-funded companies, these core functions of public libraries will not be delivered to the citizenry. Instead of continuous budget cuts in this sector of the community, civil servants and officials from all levels of public office should realize the positive social change and the great deal of economic development that public libraries can contribute to a nation hungry for information and knowledge.

Public Library Services

A public library provides many services for the public in the United States. A public library is not just about checking out books but also the ability to do a variety of research, access to US government documents, old periodicals, company information and even various visual collections. The ability to find all these items in one place has always been important, especially for research but now it also includes access too much of this material online.

Articles and Information

A public library now often offers articles and information online. For some of this information you have to be a member and enter your library card, but for other items you can simply access it by just logging in. You can find company information including addresses, phone numbers and even business license numbers. You can access some of the latest research, which can then point you to the direction of other source materials if you need to find further information.

The US government documents section can be extremely helpful if you are trying to find information on laws, how certain parts of the political system work and statistics regarding things happening in the United States. The public library is one of the fastest ways to cross-reference a variety of material so you can formulate an educated opinion.

Catalog

The catalog of books in a public library includes both electronic copies of books as well as all the books they have in house. Libraries can borrow books from other facilities to help you get what you need as well. Any library they have a contract with might be able to loan a book out that your library does not currently have so that you can have access to it. The catalog at a public library goes beyond research and advanced history copy but also includes both new and old fiction. You can save yourself a ton of money by checking out books from the library as opposed to constantly buying new books. Prior to the days of buying books on the Internet and huge bookstores, many people simply borrowed books and then returned them. It makes more sense, especially for books you do not plan to re-read.

News Room
The newsroom of a public library provides you access to the most extensive collection of current news as well as historical news. You can cross-reference news broadcasts, print news, various news magazines and even opinion columns. A public library used to store classic papers on microfiche but now many have gone to digital copies. This allows you to see the information from various computers inside the public library as well as access them online from the convenience of your own home.

Librarians

In the public library the librarian resource is very underutilized. Librarians have studied all types of sources and can often give you information you did not know existed. By speaking with a knowledgeable librarian you can find new sources and specialty books that might add depth to what you are studying. Too often people rely on the Internet to give them all the current news, but this information is not necessarily sourced properly or accurate. A librarian has studied how to do proper research and can make sure the information you are provided with is accurate and usable for whatever your project.

Kids Section

A public library often focuses on community outreach, especially towards children. This means helping kids getting excited about books and learning to read. By providing various storytelling programs, activities and fun outings the library works to expand the communities awareness of books and reading. Some children are brought up in homes where education and learning are not a top priority, the public library looks to expand on the efforts of the public schools to bring reading to all children. Illiteracy still remains a problem today. In a world where you cannot read you are entirely isolated from important information and as children age it only becomes more difficult to function properly in society. The objective of the public library is to make sure everyone in a community has access to teaching programs that will help children read.

Recommendations at the Public Library

Typically, a public library will have a section of recommendations. Some of these recommendations might be classics while others will be newer releases that are either fun to read or have current significance. No matter what the category, reading helps introduce the public to knowledge they might not otherwise have access to. By looking over the recommendations, you might find yourself exploring areas of study that you were otherwise in the dark about. These types of books can introduce you to new authors and other interesting topics. Whether it affects your course of study or just expands your view of the world, you will have a broader knowledgebase every time you leave the library.

US Public Libraries vs. Other Countries

The US public library system has had some trouble as of late. The consumerism of the country has pushed people into buying books, which tends to leave libraries lacking in patrons. It also builds a greater wall between those who have money and access and those who do not. Many people cannot afford to buy expensive books all the time and without access to a library might not have the ability to learn about various topics. In other countries, there is less emphasis put on owning books and borrowing from the public library is much more standard.

Many outreach programs in the United States are trying to help revive the public library. From updating the catalog to utilizing online content to giving free internet access, the public library is available as an excellent resource to all those in the communities. As the outreach expands the goal is to get people as excited about books and electronic books as possible.


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