The machinations of our communities may take place in City Halls, but the heart of our communities can be found in our local libraries. If Mr. Carnegie could see a modern library today, he would be thrilled to know that his dream is still alive, but just barely.                                                                                            

Libraries house so much more than books, although the stock in trade is readily available, and they are free. FREE…..that’s one powerful word is today’s sagging economy. Libraries can even get eBooks for your I-pad or Kindle or whatever. What do you pay for Netflix? Well, those CDs, DVDs and even videocasettes are at your library for free. Where else can you get the very latest book at a price that even Amazon can’t beat? Can’t afford that extra PC or lap top for your student? Direct them to the nearest library.

Everyone is welcome. Come in at tax time for some good advice about filing your taxes. English a second language? Check out the Conversation Corners that many libraries offer. And for you moms, make the weekly children’s story time a regular event in your house. Did I mention that it’s free? Libraries have special summer reading programs for kids. Some counties even have special senior libraries. And many libraries have a close connection with local schools to help students with research and other school projects. Our libraries are just about the best safe venue for young people.

For those who are looking for work, check out your local library for help in building a resume. Or if you’re looking for a quiet respite from a very busy life, the library is just the place to finish that book, read the paper or catch up with your emails without interruptions (almost all libraries have WiFi for your Internet convenience).

Every family needs only to go on-line and Google their county library, click onto the closest one and check out their monthly events. There’s almost always a book club that is open to all. Special speakers are often booked at a library. Even musical groups find their way there. And if your club or group is looking for a good meeting space, for a very nominal fee, you can book a conference room at your….yes, your local library. You can always get the room for free if you just walk in and find one available, but reserving a room is recommended.

The professional services that your library staff offers the public is awesome. And now back to Mr. Carnegie. A thrifty Scotsman he may have been, but I think even he would be saddened by how those in local government have devalued one of our country’s most precious assets. Libraries are the last free bastions of public education and local governments are hell-bent to nickle and dime them to death. I wonder why? Do not let this happen.

Here’s what you can do:

1.  Visit your library often to see all that it offers.

2.  Join your local Friends of the Library.

3.  Become active in making your voice heard at every County meeting in which library issues are on the agenda.

4.  Your political representatives have email addresses–send them a message from your library.

For those of you who live in the Reno, Nevada area, check out the Washoe County Library website at www.washoecountylibrary.us and if you’re interested in becoming a friend of this phenomenal library system, check out www.washoelibraryfriends.org. For everyone else: patronize and support the best bargain going. Do it now before American public libraries become a part of our past.

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