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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Importance of Supporting Your Local Libraries

Photo Credit: Rancho Cucamonga Facebook

Less than a century ago, public libraries held a special place in American society. Libraries offered communities vast amounts of free knowledge to all no matter the demographic. 

Referred to by many for decades as the “Palaces of the People”, public libraries were great spaces for not only bettering one’s knowledge but also engaging and socializing with people a part of your community. 

However, by the turn of the twenty-first century, the image of public libraries being a key and central function of a community began to dwindle as technology and consumer technological goods became more advanced and easily accessible to the average American. 

Due to the rise of technology, public libraries have seen an increasing decline in public usage and community engagement for the past two decades. 

According to a  2019 Gallup study, libraries simply do not hold much significance for most Americans and their daily lives. The study showed how only 7 percent of Americans reported visiting libraries weekly, while another 59 percent stated that they rarely or have never visited their libraries.  

In the article, “If Libraries Are About Finding the Truth, Let’s Be Honest About Their Decline” by Samuel J. Abrams, they found that between the years 2000 and 2018, library visits have declined by 31 percent amongst the 16,000 public libraries in America. 

With this research and data, the consensus of Americans’ attitudes towards public libraries is that libraries have simply become irrelevant and as equally as un-useful. 

While the argument of libraries being “pointless” due to the vast amounts of easily accessible technology has some fruition, libraries hold more opportunities than to read free books. Libraries not only provide trusted knowledge but are also places where people can connect and engage with others within their communities. 

Libraries have often been categorized by researchers and analysts as “Third Places”.

“Third places” in American society and culture are public places whose sole function is to create communal engagement. These places include libraries, cafes, community centers, and other public places that offer people space to engage with others without being considered a workplace or home. 

Research shows that libraries and other “third places” positively help the effects of loneliness and isolation during and post-pandemic. These places hold a powerful role in creating and sustaining a community within American society by promoting ideas and communal ties. 

Libraries also provide a longitude of helpful resources including helping communities engage in recycling, providing refuge for those who are homeless and underserved communities, and also play an important role in English language learning for all ages. 

As someone who spent most of their childhood reading and exploring vast amounts of books in libraries, the census that libraries hold little value in our current society greatly concerns me. 

While growing up libraries were a place for not only myself but for everyone, to engage in topics in an environment that was created to better the community. 

Because this article centers around the effects of libraries on communities, I reached out to the Rancho Cucamonga Archibald Avenue Public Library and was able to interview Brittany Garcia, the Adult and Teen Services Supervisor at the library. 

I asked Garcia questions surrounding the decline of public usage of libraries and the overall effect this has as someone who works within the public library system. 

When asked about the recent research showing the decline of Americans visiting libraries, Garica said “It’s sad. I feel they are the last free places where no one is trying to sell you something and where you can come and sincerely be yourself. But you have to consider two to three years of the pandemic. The pandemic caused many people to go digital, causing them not to come to libraries as frequently.”

Garcia disagreed with the statement that libraries are “pointless” in this day of age where everything is digital saying, “I do disagree as someone a little biased due to working as a librarian. Most who don’t get their information from libraries most often get it through social media, which is sometimes just reading a title.” 

Garica added, “A lot of people use libraries for programs or to socialize for free. Income varies from individual to individual and some may not have a fixed income to go everything digital and libraries are exactly designed for that.”

Garica explained how the Archibald Library provides a variety of sources and programs for a variety of age groups. 

“We offer story times, teen programs, adult programs, senior programs. We at the library learn to adapt to the changing times and needs. We are trying to adapt to the current state by adding free wifi and computers that you can take home.”

When asked about the current future of libraries for future generations, Garcia said “I believe that because technology keeps evolving and not everyone is fortunate enough to get technology at the moment it comes out, libraries are going to become technology hubs.”

Garcia explained the importance of public libraries to communities such as Rancho and how they are currently adapting. “During the pandemic, we did surveys asking the community their input on their needs because everything is constantly changing and the pandemic perpetrated new types of change and we have come back from that and are trying to tailor what we offer cause what we used to do doesn’t work as it did five years ago.” 

There aren’t truly any more public spaces in America that not only don’t require any money but provide a multitude of free knowledge. The importance of supporting and preserving libraries, whether local or independent, can make a tremendous impact on your community. 

In this day of age, where misinformation is rampant through social media, it is important to turn to libraries that hold historical gems of work to not only look back on the past but also to evaluate our future and to educate others. 


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