Why Libraries?

Using your library is such an individual experience, based on your unique goals, wants, and needs. Yet it is also a community experience, of shared spaces and communal resources, open to all. Check out a few more things we’ve learned about why communities need libraries.

Three library lawn signs: Because libraries build strong communities, Because libraries let everyone's voice be heard, and Because libraries promote justice and inclusion for all.

Because your data shouldn’t be an open book. Libraries protect your privacy.

Everyone has a right to access information in private. In fact, 74% of Americans consider it “very important” to stay in control of who can access their personal information—yet only a small minority express confidence in their telecommunications providers’ commitment to securely protecting their data. Librarians have long championed their community members’ right to access information in private. Libraries can serve as an essential refuge where everyone can check out materials or browse the internet without their information being shared.

Because librarians have been helping people fact check since forever. Libraries help build knowledge and vet fake news.

Misinformation is no match for a librarian. Separating fact from fiction poses a unique challenge in the internet era: a recent study found that 80% of middle schoolers couldn’t distinguish between sponsored news content and real journalism. With their research expertise and commitment to accuracy, librarians play a key role in helping students and the general public strengthen their media literacy and critical thinking skills.

Because blue state or red state, everyone benefits from an enlightened state. Libraries inspire community dialogue.

At libraries, everyone is welcome and all opinions have value. Technologists say that people have less chance of encountering people they disagree with than ever before. Service to community is a core value for all libraries. They help inspire understanding through educational resources and diverse materials. Libraries are safe places to learn, discuss challenging topics and find opportunities to better communities.*

*Since 2010, ALA’s Center for Civic Life has been building the capacity of libraries and librarians to help citizens get more engaged in the civic life of their communities. A new initiative, Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change, builds on that effort.

Because access equals opportunity. Libraries open doors for people regardless of race, age, education, ethnicity, gender, language, income, physical limitations or geographic barriers.

Libraries are America’s most democratic institutions, ensuring people have access to information and lifelong learning. And libraries are prevalent. (Did you know there are 17,000 public libraries in the United States, more than there are Starbucks or McDonald’s?)

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