Face Off: Libraries are not obsolete

Jenna Williams, Editor-in-Chief

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” The great F. Scott Fitzgerald recognized that literature itself could provide comfort and a place for people, as do libraries themselves. Literature is housed in libraries, which are the physical, tangible embodiments of Fitzgerald’s sentiment.

Libraries are for more than getting books.

They are community centers. They host a plethora of activities, from after school programs to classes to family movie nights. My own town’s public library has an American Sign Language class, a leadership program, an art session, a book group, a Zumba class, tutoring opportunities, several computer classes and a multitude of more events just coming up in the next week. No doubt your local library, whether in Brownsburg, Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, Greenwood or any other location where we call home, provides similar services.

Labeling libraries obsolete is in turn deeming all of these other activities sponsored by public libraries obsolete. And are they? Of course not. They enrich the lives of the community.

Libraries have always been avenues with which to help people. They provide a place for homeless people. They offer heat and shelter, internet and communication.

Libraries are a safe space. For those who cannot go home after school every day, for those who need somewhere besides the streets — the library will always offer a better alternative, and that includes our own school library, which is open after school.

If people don’t have the money to have a computer at home, they can come to their local library and gain the access they need.

School can be expensive. Libraries serve essentially as their own universities; they provide free education to anyone who wants it. People can use libraries to expand their own knowledge.

And speaking of universities, you’ll find that the library will become one of your favorite places on campus during your undergraduate career.

Libraries also connect with schools, as many classes demand text sources within their assignments. Research papers are embedded within our own school curriculum, and many teachers require book sources.

Our own media center is a good example of the many things libraries have to offer. As soon as students walk in, they encounter a welcoming environment. With fish — we aren’t the only people who gather in schools —  hanging out behind the front desk, three rooms for quiet study, and a large common area, anyone can come in and find a place to be productive.

The people are also what make libraries special. Librarians are always willing to help and seemingly enjoy doing it.

Libraries are more than just a storage place for books, but even if they weren’t that still doesn’t define them as obsolete. Fitzgerald is certainly not the only one who finds commonality in books, and libraries are the vehicles to provide such an important thing.

In conclusion, I’ll steal from one of the literary greats who can articulate much more adequately than I can, T. S. Eliot: “The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.”