The Decline of Public Libraries

Redd Cota, Reporter

It’s 2023, and we all have a mini computer in our hands that holds all the knowledge we need and all the books we could ask for, making physical books less and less important to our daily lives. So what will happen to public libraries? Are they still relevant?

Public libraries are a good source of resources, information,\ and entertainment for communities. Not only can you check out books, and maybe find some ancient book about your town, there are multiple events that you can attend. All of the libraries throughout the Grand Valley host regular community events, from infant and toddler storytime to having someone help you learn to file your own taxes. There are even events that allow you to read with a certified therapy dog.

With a simple library card you can check out books, movies, music, board games, video games,\ and even some documents on our town’s history. You can even, ( as a student ) get a free bus pass for GVT, the valley’s public bus system. At all public libraries, you have access to a computer, and a printer (for a very small fee) in order to get things done if you don’t have access to these things at home. These are just a few of the many wonderful things that are provided at your public library.

Public libraries have a lot to offer, and for some communities it’s very important to have a public library accessible. However, according to an article, “If Libraries Are About Finding the Truth, Let’s Be Honest About Their Decline” By Samuel J. Abrams, “The empirical reality is that libraries are not third places for most Americans; the average American rarely sets foot into one. Visits to the nation’s 16,000 or so library locations have been falling over the past decade.” Since technology has taken over, many Americans do not have compelling reasons to visit the library. Most, if not all, have a cell phone and a chromebook with them, on which you can look up anything you want about whatever, and read books on your phone. Most teenagers and younger children have some sort of way to watch movies and play video games. The library has simply become not as relevant and seemingly not useful. In Abrams’ article it was mentioned that between 2000 and 2018 library visits have declined 31%.

To some people it may not seem like a big deal that public libraries are going downhill, but for others a public library is a real necessity. These are people’s jobs we are talking about. Loads of people have lost jobs due to the closure of libraries. Not only are those people affected, but the people who go to the library to seek help in finding a job are disadvantaged as well. Some libraries help create resumes, (as well as having a computer to make one,) and apply to jobs, as well as host “job fairs” for people seeking work.

These library closures have many effects, ranging from major to minor. Even if it seems out of the way, or not really necessary, you should check out our central library and some of the events being hosted. Or just sit and read a book. Or even take some friends and rent out one of the private study rooms.

Public Libraries are in decline, but they hold very important tools for a community. It’s important that we try to keep public libraries alive and being used. If not for you, for someone else who relies on a library.