The important role libraries play in building a creative and innovative society
As gateways to knowledge and culture, libraries play a fundamental role in society. Fundamental to creating learning opportunities, as well as supporting literacy and education, the resources and services offered by each library all help shape new ideas that are essential to building a creative and innovative society. .
Libraries also help to ensure an authentic record of the knowledge created and accumulated by past generations. If we were to exist in a world without libraries, it would be difficult to advance human research and knowledge, and to preserve the world’s accumulated knowledge and heritage for future generations.
Despite the rise of the online age, resulting in what we believe to be the death of print books and a growing disinterest in libraries, there are still more libraries in the United States than there are franchises. Starbucks or McDonald’s. Public libraries have continually evolved over the years, serving as important community centers to facilitate learning, professional development, and health care.
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More so, in the current political climate, libraries have become centers for the movement that supports women, immigrants, people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as those facing religious persecution. They present themselves as free public spaces that allow every individual to feel safe and find a home away from home, where inclusivity is the norm. Now more than ever, they are vital institutions that all members of the public should have access to, and here are several reasons why.
Libraries provide free educational resources
Libraries are synonymous with education, providing countless resources, namely books, internet access, printing facilities, and educational and professional training programs that can fuel economic, social and cultural development. Today, libraries not only offer their services face-to-face, but since the light of the pandemic, they have also incorporated e-learning to improve accessibility for the general public. In addition to lending books and providing instruction, libraries are also involved in copying materials for research or private study. Not all students have the luxury of being able to afford all the books or journals they need to access for their studies, therefore, they rely on the services of a library to support their academic consumption.
Libraries preserve history and cultural heritage
Recognizing the cultural importance of sharing, Mahatma Gandhi said that “no culture can live if it tries to be exclusive”. The incentive to share and reuse information and knowledge takes many forms, and it is one of the most important functions of libraries. Libraries are rich repositories of important historical and cultural collections, many of which are not available elsewhere in the world.
Libraries, home to centuries of learning, information, history and truth, are important advocates in the fight against misinformation. Even though the past centuries have undergone many changes, as we have been subject to innovation, libraries continue to maintain their primary goal of providing visitors with the information they seek and are certain to provide only the truth.
Libraries help boost local economies
As libraries are free to patrons, few would consider the role they play in the economy, however, libraries actually play a key role in financially strengthening local communities. Libraries provide workspace for telecommuters, provide free internet access for people looking for job opportunities, and job training and job interviews for those who need it without having to spend huge sums of money to upgrade the workforce. The technology found in libraries today can be innovative, providing access to expensive tools, training and skills that would otherwise not be available to everyone.
Libraries are safe and reliable spaces for all
Space is one of the most valuable things libraries bring to their communities. Although libraries are not a substitute for shelters, counseling centers or systematic long-term solutions to homelessness, they are nonetheless vital to public health and safety, offering support to those in need. Every morning when libraries open their doors, they essentially become refuges, centers of learning and centers of employment for the most underserved population. In addition to serving patrons experiencing poverty and homelessness, libraries are simply safe and meaningful spaces for all members of the community.
Libraries help build communities
Libraries serve not only to provide information, but also to serve as a social hub for people who want to find themselves and their communities. Students meet in libraries with their study groups for school projects, mothers join baby story clubs, seniors attend events to inspire connection with others, and avid readers indulge in discuss their latest reading with other like-minded people.
Additionally, the libraries serve as community hubs for diverse populations by supporting non-English speakers to help them integrate into the community, thereby ensuring that the library selection is filled with books in different languages, as well as staff being often multilingual to serve this need. Whoever you are and whatever your identity, all of these communities come together to learn, share and celebrate where they live, who they are and what they want to become.
Whether a library boasts grand architecture or modest design, a library’s physical space has a way of communicating our underlying values as a society, providing resources and services for the literacy and education, and to help individuals expand their community network. Libraries are truly remarkable spaces, playing the necessary role in ensuring that we continue to nurture creative and innovative individuals to participate in our ever-changing society. Therefore, the public need for libraries that serve as shared, community-centered spaces is unlikely to change in the near future.
This article is part of the ArchDaily topics: Democratization of Design. Each month we explore a topic in depth through articles, interviews, news and projects. Learn more about our ArchDaily topics. As always, at ArchDaily, we welcome contributions from our readers; if you want to submit an article or a project, contact us.