“It’s not just about the books.” This is a phrase we use a lot in Salisbury. Libraries will always have books, and there will always be nostalgic geeks like me who prefer the feel of a book in their hands, the smell of old paper and the thought of older knowledge. But libraries are so much more now.
Libraries offer help with job hunting, taxes, computer education, help with e-readers and tablets. Even if book circulation were going down (which it isn’t) libraries don’t just circulate books. They circulate information. And no matter what form it takes, there will always be information to circulate.
But that’s not all that libraries do now. The diversity of our society is what makes the U.S. such a robust nation, with many different cultures living together. Libraries bridge all demographics. Age, race, culture, religion, socioeconomic status — none of these matter at a library. People come together at libraries and enjoy all sorts of programming. At Salisbury our mission statement is to provide ALL members of the community with information, education, recreation.
We have book discussion groups, children’s programming, book sales, guest lecturers. But we could provide so much more. And we can provide more.
We don’t need fewer libraries or smaller libraries. We need bigger, better libraries to ensure that everyone has access to the culture, the education, and the information that makes our society better.
So are libraries still important? Libraries are more important than ever.
Joseph W. Stucker is a Salisbury Public Library trustee.