Are libraries relevant in today’s world?

Are+libraries+relevant+in+today%27s+world%3F

Ruud Leeuw

Mariam Hanna, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Libraries have been at the forefront of civilizations since the beginning of time. They were used to store important scribes in Mesopotamia, to preserve clay tablets in Nineveh, and to house government records in Ancient Egypt. They have served as catalysts of social change, institutions of great knowledge, and beacons of empowerment throughout the world’s history as well as America’s. 

With the modern day world advancing rapidly, many question whether libraries continue to serve their purpose of educating people and whether they should remain in existence. Although technology has created a world where every question imaginable can be answered at the click of a button, that does not mean libraries are no longer worthy. In contrast, it is significant that they remain hubs of information and gathering now more than ever.

As technology takes over the world in all aspects, such as education, it becomes increasingly crucial that libraries exist. Libraries are the only institutions that offer free computer usage, as well as technology classes, for those who need it. In a survey conducted by Pew Research, 77 percent of people aged 16 or over said internet access at libraries is “definitely important”. Students from lower income households whose families cannot necessarily afford to purchase computers or wireless internet would be at an extreme disadvantage without community libraries because nowadays, important things like job applications, methods of communication, and school assignments all are found online. Around one third of Americans heavily rely on the computers and internet services at local libraries for these tasks and so many more, so closing down libraries would evidently negatively impact America’s youth and society.

It is not only America’s youth that benefits from technological services at libraries, however. Since the internet, computers, and cell phones have become everyone’s main sources of information, it is necessary that everyone knows how to use them. Libraries offer classes where volunteers demonstrate and instruct “students” on how to utilize these devices. This is especially important for older generations who are not able to adapt to this new digital era as quickly as younger ones but are still forced to in order to move with the world. For example, the Rochester Hills Public Library (RHPL) offers a class called “basic technology help for seniors” every Sunday afternoon.

Furthermore, libraries are the only places left where people can simply exist. They do not have to spend any money, nor are they compelled to. They do not have to interact with anyone, but they can if they would like to- quietly, of course. They have a plethora off options, like browsing through books, doing research, working on schoolwork, reading a new novel. The choices are endless, and this is the only place where this can be guaranteed. In a society as fast-paced as our’s, it is beyond significant that there will always be somewhere not as fast paced, not as needy, and libraries fulfill this purpose.

Libraries also have individual study and group study rooms that are utilized by many. When looking to get some work done in a quiet and private environment, or just a different atmosphere, a lot of teenagers and young adults check out one of these rooms for free. For a lot of people, having access to these rooms is crucial as it is the only place they can get some peace and quiet and still get work done. Sure, you can go to Panera Bread and do you homework, but with the other customers and the music playing on speakers, that is not a quiet environment. These study rooms are not offered anywhere besides libraries.

In addition, libraries help to connect individuals and bring together communities. By offering a variety of classes and hosting numerous events, people with shared interests can get to know one another and form friendships. The RHPL has dance classes, English classes, and history classes, and it holds events like adult game night and themed children’s story times. This simply allows for interaction between community members of all ages and backgrounds that they would not get elsewhere, which promotes social, mental, and societal health. If libraries close in the future, this opportunity will be lost. Many argue that although libraries offer such classes and events to its patrons, most people do not attend them. This is untrue, though, as exhibited in a Pew Research study that found almost 25 percent of library card owners have attended at least one of these in the past year.

Although technology is advancing and libraries are not being used to check out books as much as they used to be, they still have value. Libraries can offer what nowhere else can- free access to internet and computers, quiet places to study and exist, community gatherings through classes and events, and so much more- and losing them would be detrimental to society.