Libraries…Still a Valuable Resource
The following is a letter submitted to the Town Board of my home town in an effort to garner financial support for our library. In honor of National Library week, April 14-20, I’ve shared it here.
Dear Town Board Members,
As you know, I’m a vocal advocate of community libraries. I grew up on a farm on a dirt road in Johnston County. I spent much physical time in tobacco, cucumber, and soy bean fields, but those hot, dusty acres never confined my imagination. With any free minute, I held a book in my hand. Through those books, I wasn’t stuck on a North Carolina farm. I could roam the English moors with Jane Eyre or discover Prince Edward Island along with Anne Shirley. Books introduced me to possibilities. I want the children of Princeton to realize possibilities also.
A library is necessary for the literacy and education of a healthy community. Because of the free events and services offered in libraries, they are a hub of social and educational activity. Reading to young children helps improve their language skills and sets them on the road to lifelong learning. In fact, a 2005 study from Illinois shows that “students who frequently visit well-stocked and well-staffed school libraries end up with higher ACT scores and perform better on reading and writing exams.”
The Princeton Public Library is a valuable resource to our community. Patrons use the library to access books, videos, and music from all seven county libraries. They can order a book from Benson, for example, and pick it up in Princeton a few days later. It houses the only JobLink resource in the county for displaced workers. With its six computers, the library provides internet access for communication, research, and college resume submissions for people who don’t have internet access at home.
Our library has enjoyed a successful year in terms of usage. Last July and August, the Summer Story Time served an average of 40 children for six weeks. Our patron count has increased for the first two months of the year. In January, 2012, our patrons numbered 216. In 2013, the number rose to 266, a 23.14% increase. In February, 2012, we served 343 people. In February, 2013, 378 patrons used the library for a 10.2% rise.
For the past two years, the Town Board has allocated $5000 to the library’s budget. Three people, Debbie Cobb, Judy Boyette, and I, bear the burden of raising the remainder of our budget, $5800, through the annual golf tournament and other fundraisers. The $10,800 pays for twelve operational hours per week—less than half of the available hours for Four Oaks, the second smallest county library.
Currently, we are facing a temporary closing because of a lack of funds. Thanks to a recent NewsLeader article highlighting our plight, we have received a few donations and are waiting for a few promises to become reality.
We have many ideas for the future of our library: more operational hours to better serve Princeton, a real summer reading program with special events and prizes for books read, a mothers’ morning out program, afternoon clubs and activities, as well as an adult lecture series with subjects ranging from home exchange, finance, and nutrition to parenting. We’ve also scheduled an author reading/signing evening for next fall.
We can’t provide these services, however, if the library isn’t open.
Reading and education go hand in hand and are avenues to broader horizons and vibrant communities. I need your help to keep our library going strong in our community. I need you to continue financially supporting the library.
Thank you for your consideration.