In today’s economy, even the average middle-class American family has one foot over the poverty line. As more employers downsize and cut costs, the number of job opportunities and access to resources (job training, higher education, etc.) continue to shrink. Like many businesses and non-profits, public libraries suffer from budget cuts, staff reduction and shut-downs. The good news is, with strong community support, they can still offer useful resources to assist their communities.
Want to save a few hundred bucks and do your own auto repairs? Chances are the library has a book for that! Most public libraries carry the Haynes or Chilton repair manuals that offer easy, step-by-step instructions with detailed pictures. They also have books that can teach how to update a resume, study for the SAT, or start an organic garden in your own backyard.
Most people have Internet access through their smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computers, but many public libraries offer free computer use and WiFi. The libraries’ computers often include access to resources you may not have at home, such as homework help databases for the kids’ research projects, low-cost printing and online foreign language courses. Check with your local library for classes to help upgrade your computer skills, which may help you get a new job or promotion.
Your library has subscriptions to local and national newspapers and magazines. You may have to wait your turn to use them, but there’s plenty to do while you wait – and remember, it’s free!
Public libraries offer a variety of free cultural and educational programming. On any given day, you can attend a musical performance, a book reading by your favorite author, get your taxes done or sample the local visual arts. Meeting with the local writers’ group, Toastmasters chapter or attending a workshop on interview skills can be a great opportunity for networking.
Librarians may specialize in specific areas of interest such as music, history or children’s services, but they can also refer you to other resources like a Certified Healthcare Navigator if you’re having trouble shopping for a family insurance plan. Public libraries offer solutions for almost all of your needs, but they need community support to keep them afloat. Without that support, they may suffer the current fate of many libraries, and close their doors for good. Help keep the doors open, visit your local library today and see what they can do for you!