Nothing turns around a rough day full of grumpy moods and rough situations better than a trip to the library. There is something magical about walking through the large doors and entering the atmosphere of a million stories. I’m not just talking about myself either. My two-year-old will run all the way up through the large doors and take off to the children’s section as soon as we get out of the car. Her deep love of the library isn’t an accident; we’ve gone to the library and story time at least once a week since she was six months old. Libraries aren’t limited to just books and story time — they have much more to offer.
Besides books, libraries offer access to technology and education. Local libraries are full of resources for everyone from the average Joe to the above-average. There are classes that teach skills in computers, finding jobs, and even doing taxes. Many libraries offer the standard tutoring option as well, but their classes go beyond just intellectual. For young children they now offer music, dance club, Lego club, computer classes, family movie nights and more.
With so many media sources, it’s no wonder libraries are growing in attendance. They now offer computers, tablets, ebooks, music, digital downloads, and more. Libraries now include educational classes for all ages, resources for taxes, social groups and more. Despite all the things libraries have to offer, only 4.9 people per capita visit the library. Only eight items per capita are checked out, and of those eight, 35 percent are children’s items.
A recent study found that millennials and the elderly are the majority users of the library. In fact, millennials are out-reading the older generation. But if they are the bulk of library users, why are numbers so low? We pay for the library anyway through our taxes, so why not use it more? Not using the library is like paying admission to an amusement park and then not going on the rides.
The joy my daughter feels in entering the library and exploring doesn’t end at the doors when we leave; the magic stays with us all week. My only hope is that this joy continues with her as she grows. After all, libraries foster early literacy in infants and toddlers. Children who participate in summer reading programs have significant boosts in literacy development. The more children read, the better they write, and the more they love learning. Libraries even help children in low-income situations keep up with their peers. Children who use the library are given a key to access knowledge and learning in an enjoyable way.
Statistics and science aside, the library just has a welcoming environment, with helpful and loving librarians to help visitors. It’s not unusual for us to run into friends and even make friends there. The library is really more than just books, learning, and economics; it is a vital place for families to grow. Visit your local library today.