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February 5, 2018 · OPINION

Library good for learning, business and economy

The library board’s conceptual drawing for a new building on Waterloo Street in Warrenton.
Library board Chairman Patricia White.
By Patricia White

In the past few months at a Fauquier County public library, you could have: read to a therapy dog, improved your English speaking skills at an ESL class, attended a business seminar for entrepreneurs, received help preparing your taxes or homework, applied for a new job, discussed integrity in government, attended a STEAM program, run your small business from a study carrel, researched your family tree or studied for your GED.

Each day on average, 780 people visit a branch of the Fauquier library. That’s not surprising given one out of two county residents has a library card. Last year nearly 15,000 people attended library programs. Each week, during that same time period, Fauquier librarians fielded 1,015 questions. Over the past five years, the annual number of books checked out topped 450,000.

Some ask: “Are public libraries still needed?”

“Yes” is the resounding answer, according to the Pew Research Center and data from a Fauquier library community survey. Both Pew and the library found that the core purpose of libraries has not changed.

According to Pew, 91 percent of Americans aged 16 or older said that public libraries are important to their communities “for providing free access to materials and resources and for promoting literacy and improving the overall quality of life.”

Closer to home, the 2016 community survey found that the library is expected to be an anchor, a place for learning and meeting for every segment of the community — children, teens and adults.

That’s not to say access to digital resources is not critical. In 2016, Fauquier residents logged more than 30,000 Internet sessions on library computers to do research, apply for jobs, stay in touch with family through email, or get health information. Oftentimes, the library is their only access to the Internet because of economic or bandwidth restrictions.

And, there’s more.

In addition to being centers for learning, public libraries contribute to economic development. In the past five years, 18 new libraries have opened in Virginia. According to the Roanoke County economic development director, a new library in Vinton “has served as the catalyst for extensive new business development, redevelopment and historic and revitalization projects.”

This is your public library – improving the quality of life for all Fauquier residents. Libraries are good for learning, good for business, and good for the economy.

If you haven’t been to a Fauquier library for a while you need to visit and check it out.

The writer serves as chairman of the Fauquier County Library Board of Trustee. A retired marketing director for the Vint Hill Development Authority, she has lived in Fauquier County for 22 years
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nonewtaxes · February 5, 2018 at 11:23 pm
Libraries are obsolete institutions. They belong right there with Blockbuster and Barnes and Noble.
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