Public libraries are gateways to a world in which information, learning and cultural entertainment orbit. A world made available to society to be used for personal and professional growth. Available, open and welcoming libraries loaded with endless opportunities that make them a beloved and required service, despite the fact that sometimes they are the great overlooked.
Public libraries carry on their flag the defense of social function and service in an equal way for all people. Aware of their usefulness, they try to make their multiple benefits reach the whole of society so that each person, group or collective uses them in a way that they can get the most out of them. From safe havens to information highways, public libraries are capable of mutating in various forms and formats for the advancement of people and society.
Why are public libraries necessary?
Sometimes we are not able to ask ourselves questions that from our point of view have obvious answers. For example, we use the resources and services of libraries without asking ourselves what they mean to us, much less what they mean to society. Through the following decalogue I will try to answer, in a detailed way and from my point of view and experience, why public libraries are necessary.
1. Facilitate access to information
Public libraries guarantee free access to information quickly, directly and free of charge. This freedom of access protects anyone from ignorance. In addition, libraries provide truthful information in the face of disinformation and informative relevance to the infodemic.
2. Promote the acquisition and creation of knowledge
Public libraries promote knowledge through the activation of thought, creativity and imagination. The multitude of resources available in libraries, added to professional guidance, promote personal and professional growth of people. The time invested and used in a library favors the acquisition and creation of new knowledge.
3. Support literacy and lifelong learning
Public libraries offer learning opportunities for people to update their knowledge and skills. Rapid and constant social, cultural and technological changes require early assimilation by people. Public libraries promote literacy and constant training through multiple resources, services and training activities.
4. Promote social equality and opportunities
Public libraries break down social and economic boundaries to level all levels of society. Anyone can make equal use of libraries without spending anything and without conditions. That is, they promote social equality and equal opportunities regardless of economic level, race, religion, nationality, age or sex.
5. Spaces of freedom, informational neutrality and anonymity
Public libraries promote freedom of opinion, expression, and thought. Anyone who makes use of library resources and services can have the peace of mind to do so in a free, caring and respectful environment in which both information neutrality and anonymity are paramount. At this point it should be borne in mind that public libraries are one of the few spaces that remain today that are not subject to political, commercial or interest powers.
6. Promote cultural entertainment
Public libraries favor the approach of cultural entertainment to people. Located far from economic consumerism, libraries are positioned as a source of fun and escape to delve into culture. Whether through reading or the many social and cultural activities they carry out, these spaces of tranquility and learning offer another type of entertainment with which to enjoy and have a good time.
7. Create communities and social union
Public libraries function as meeting points for social gathering and union. They are spaces of connection, cohesion and relationship of people in which respect, equity, diversity and inclusion stand out. They are attended by individuals, families, groups, associations or the neighborhood.
8. Activate economic, social and cultural growth
Public libraries are an economic and social engine in municipalities. They create an informational and cultural infrastructure in which people orbit. And thanks to this union of people, content and spaces, a movement is generated, not only social and cultural, but also economic about the neighborhood by promoting commercial activities, improving productivity and offering resources for professional growth and job search.
9. Protect authors’ rights
Public libraries are guarantors of the protection of intellectual property and copyright of literary and academic works, among others. Libraries offer content legally and free of charge to people, safeguarding the creative rights of authors and keeping people away from piracy.
10. Preserve cultural heritage
Public libraries collect, preserve and disseminate local and/or national cultural heritage. They guarantee the conservation and availability of knowledge for present and future generations with the informational objective and the creation of new knowledge.