Though libraries have existed for millennia, the concept of public libraries, accessible to anyone, regardless of age, income or background, is a more modern invention. From books and movies, special events, classes and more, libraries are a vital part of any community.
No longer simply a place to check out books, libraries are a hub of activity in a community. They are places where people can gather, learn, explore and strengthen community bonds. They are places where job seekers can go to search for jobs online, community groups can meet and plan and researchers can access databases. Nearly 73 percent of libraries are their communities’ only source of free computer and Internet access.
During times of economic uncertainty, residents know that they can always turn to the library for information, resources and entertainment. Libraries are essential.
As a public service, libraries are extraordinarily effective, serving more than two-thirds of the public with less than 2 percent of all tax dollars. In fact, on average, the cost to a taxpayer for access to all the resources the public library has to offer is a mere $31 a year. That’s about the cost of one hardcover book these days. Public libraries are a bargain.
Libraries are important to small business and entrepreneurs as well. They provide resources that identify funding sources and other business-related information. Many more recently updated libraries are also able to offer spaces for entrepreneurs to collaborate and share. Small businesses and entrepreneurs drive local economic growth. As you can see, public libraries are important to a wide range of people in a community and play a crucial role.
Furthermore, when libraries are located in a downtown area, as ours is in Watertown, something special happens. Whenpeople come downtown to visit the library, they often visit other places downtown. They spend money in shops and restaurants. Studies have shown that users who visit the library while completing a longer list of errands report “halo” spending at establishments close to the library. A great downtown library helps contribute to a thriving downtown. Libraries are important to economic development.
The time for an expansion and renovation of our library is now. The last expansion took place in 1983 and a lot has changed since then. Our community has grown, and so has its needs. Besides allowing the library to better meet the needs of Watertown residents, a renovation will have a ripple effect. Redevelopment and investment in a building is often a catalyst for nearby building owners to renovate and restore their buildings.
Behind every great community is a great library. Now is the time to help our library, and our city, be the best that it can be.