The spread of coronavirus has quickly shutdown many resources for learning – especially for children. From schools and museums closing, to work and education moving primarily online, many students have been left without the resources to which they typically have access. Public libraries, which are often a key resource for students, have also been shut down due to concerns over COVID-19. However, public libraries and their online resources are key for promoting educational equity – even while everything is still shut down.
At public libraries, anyone can get access to educational, job or other resources for free. Librarians estimate that they answer 6.6 million questions a week, according to the American Library Association – that’s a lot of free help for things as varied as finding a reading selection or a book for a research paper, to filling out taxes and job search resources.
Providing Internet and Online Resource Access
In a world in which having access to the Internet provides a wealth of educational, social and other opportunities, libraries offer free access to computers, the Internet, and other online resources. According to the American Library Association, 100% of public libraries offer free access to the Internet, 90% have classes to help patrons of all ages with basic Internet skills, and 97% help library patrons complete and submit government forms online. Having access to the Internet can improve users’ financial, physical and mental health and those advantages are projected into the community.
Educating the Community with Free Job and Educational Programs
Public libraries also offer 4.3 million programs per year, according to the ALA. A couple of the services provided?
- 95% provide online homework assistance
- 95% offer summer reading programs for children
The assistance programs and educational resources that libraries offer help not only those who use them – they also boost local economies.
Job assistance programs are also offered at 73% of public libraries across the country, while 48% provide local entrepreneurs with the tools they need to be successful and lift up businesses in their community.
Preserving a Sense of History in Primary Sources and Other Documents
While it may seem like we can find Internet articles that support a different viewpoint every day, libraries support the search for truth. While narratives are written and erased on the Internet – libraries preserve the writings and the opinions of the past – providing a crucial bridge into the mindset of past authors and historians to help better understand past viewpoints and how we got to them. The primary source documents held in libraries across the world help preserve a sense of history.
Because libraries are a place to find resources for many different things – educational resources, job resources, health, and science – they can be viewed as connecting the community. Many different types of people, from students looking for educational resources to those looking for job resources or even help submitting their taxes – use libraries to better their everyday lives. This makes libraries gathering places that connect communities with the free resources they need.