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Friends of the Library: Help libraries create a city of learners

February 23, 2012|By Mary Ellen Goddard

"A democratic society in the knowledge age demands that its citizens learn continually, adapt to change readily, and evaluate information critically … U.S. museums and libraries are at the forefront in the movement to create a nation of learners. As stewards of cultural heritage with rich, authentic content they provide learning experiences for everyone."

The above excerpt from the just-released report of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, "Creating a Nation of Learners," makes a strong point of the importance of libraries and museums in the life of a community.

The report goes on to say, "museums and libraries are strong community anchors that enhance civic engagement, cultural opportunities, and economic vitality … Healthy, thriving, sustainable communities need institutions that strengthen civic life, understand and respond to community needs, and provide common experiences that knit community members together through common experiences and shared interests."

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There are about 123,000 libraries in our country, serving even some very small towns. When a town grows and its demographics change and the expectations of its public grow, its library often needs to adjust its programs and services.

But sometimes, the library is hampered by lack of space, or buildings that do not fit the needs of modern technology. There comes a time when it is necessary to determine just what is needed to deliver those library services and how they are to be paid for.

This process is usually called a Master Plan for Library Services.

Library master plans are not all the same — they depend on the specific needs of their community. In the past few years the cities of Wichita, Kan.; Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas; Chapel Hill, N.C.; and Renton, Wash., have studied their libraries. The results are online for anyone to look at. I suggest you do so.

Costa Mesa's City Council will hopefully decide that a Library Master Plan is important enough — even in these hard times — that they fund the study in the upcoming city budget. This was suggested in their recent study session.

Our present libraries are too small to offer all the services a city of Costa Mesa's size should have. Our libraries need your support now to help them "create a city of learners." This will pay dividends in making our city thrive.

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At the Donald Dungan Library

Children will have a busy time at the Dungan Library for the next two weeks.

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