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Friends of the Library: The report of the demise of libraries are hopefully false

May 03, 2012|By Mary Ellen Goddard

I have been reading a lot about libraries in the past few years. I have read that, because of the Internet and eBooks, they are likely to become extinct.

And then I read that "it is a big mistake to confuse the future of books or publishing with the future of public libraries. They are not the same."

I am inclined to believe this last statement. And as for the Internet, an increased public demand for more computers and other services in libraries seems to put the lie to the statement that they are about to be extinct.

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In fact, a growing number of communities are determined to keep their libraries at the leading edge of technology. A number of states and communities have conducted studies showing that the money invested in libraries and their programs bring a good return on the investment.

This is partly done by putting a value on services given that otherwise would have had to be sold. The examples include computer time and reference service, rooms for meetings, research advice to small businesses and individuals and books that we can check out instead of buy.

But there are other ingredients in this. Living near a library may increase the worth of your home.

Investing in our libraries' square footage would give us the space to develop more programming and services for teens. Far more than just keeping said teens "occupied," these programs can provide direction and learning that will make them more productive members of our community. More space could address illiteracy and poor reading skills among adults. It would allow the needed space for group study rooms, meeting rooms, and children's programs.

So what is your opinion about libraries in general, and our Costa Mesa libraries in particular? Are you willing to invest in our community?

Are you one of the many who would like to see a new, large library that can accommodate the services and programming I have spoken of here? Or do you subscribe to "extinct" idea?

I would like to hear from all sides of this equation.

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Upcoming Writers' Workshop Session

The second session in the three-part Writer's Workshop series, sponsored by the Costa Mesa Library Foundation, is on "Creating Characters."

Whether the characters you imagine are recurring, interesting, weird or quirky, you will be entertained as well as informed by this delightful presentation from Robert Sassone. He received his doctorate in English Language and Literature from Oxford University and has taught courses in academic writing and literature.

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