Tuesday, August 26, 2014

An Open Letter to Re-Open Trenton Public Libraries

Dear Mayor Eric Jackson,

I know you are new in office but I am requesting that you do what you can to please reopen the shuttered city libraries that were closed since August of 2010. Now don't get me wrong, I do recognize that the Main Branch on Academy Street has made some great progress since the other locations have been closed.

All one has to do is take a quick look inside the Main Branch nowadays to see how they have added newer equipment, a DVD dispenser, and a larger variety of E-books (much to my delight). Along with this, I have also seen the library's strategic plan that lays out a blueprint for opening two satellite libraries within one year. Now on the surface that sounds fine and dandy, but I must say that this time-frame is far too long. (For more on the Library's strategic plan, you can always click here).

Indeed, I hate to be that proverbial fly in the ointment that always seems to find something wrong even in our best laid plans, but indeed on this occasion, I must. As I myself am a product of the free public library system, I feel the need to speak up early and often about this important issue. As a matter of fact, I can say without hesitation, that my life would have turned out completely different were it not for the free public library system.

As a kid, the library was a safe haven for me. It gave me a place to play games, use the computer, interact with like-minded peers, and last but not least, check-out books. Along with this, it encouraged me to read and educate myself more and more. Now years later, I am a PhD candidate at Capella University, but I digress.

Research has shown that libraries, which are simply collections of books and periodicals, add significant value to the community by providing easy access to high quality research content, helping adults upgrade their skills and find jobs, and by playing a significant role in improving childhood literacy, among other things. Bottom line: libraries are a vital part of the community. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Researcher David Giles said, "No other institution, public or private, does a better job of reaching people who have been left behind in today’s economy, have failed to reach their potential in the city’s public school system or who simply need help navigating an increasingly complex world".

Moreover, studies done in New York and Texas both show that there is an economic return on investment for public libraries according to the Illinois Library Association, a library advocacy organization. These are definitely things to consider when allocating funds for our public libraries in the city of Trenton.

So, Mayor Jackson I hope that my plea to have the libraries re-opened doesn't fall on deaf ears and that you will do what you can do to re-open these library branches as I think this will improve things in the city of Trenton.


Anwar's Reflections

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