A guest opinion from educator Michael Strickland.
When was the last time you visited the Nampa Public Library? If it has been a while, you may be surprised at the plethora of resources to help every sector of our community, from the homeless, to teens, to seniors, to small businesses and YOU.
“While public libraries are simply an abstraction to some, for many of us they were and continue to be a sanctuary, a community, a public rejection of the notion that knowledge should be contingent on what you can afford, a place where no price can be placed on the access to ideas,” said public intellectual Clint Smith on Twitter.
In the midst of a national trend of waning support for public libraries, it is a good time to visit just of few of them many reasons that the Nampa Public Library is a priceless community center:
1. Books music, and dvd checkouts: By offering access to a massive collection of books, music, and movies, the Nampa Public Library fundamentally advances the idea that culture is a public good. It is one that all people have a right to enjoy, regardless of their income.
2. Educational help and guidance: Reference librarians show patrons the correct websites to go to, help them navigate and interpret resources, and teach them how to scan and use email. Nampa Public Library staff helps people fill forms for low-income housing and other documents, which are often complicated and overwhelming. Sometimes this means showing them how to access and fill out an online PDF.
3. Story time and children’s programming: Mothers, fathers, grandparents, foster parents, nannies and children attend regular story times. Many of them acknowledge this as some of the only time they spend out of the house socializing. It’s a rare place that creates a sense of community, bridging socioeconomic gaps. The library is also a safe and creative space for teens.
4. Community events: Government officials, candidates, nonprofits, charities, health providers, businesses, church groups — all types of groups and leaders hold Q&A sessions and discussions at the library. The Nampa Public Library is a safe place for all people to gather.
5. Computer, internet and academic resources: Hardware, laptop, internet and wi fi access are available for those who don’t have them.
6. Job trainings: The library has courses as well as a wide variety of resources for the unemployed and homeless. Nampa librarians help patrons search for the correct offices. They print Google maps with walking or bus instructions. They give residents a running start to help improve lives. In a world heavily skewed toward people who can pay for access to resources, the library helps level the playing field.
7. Art, music, history and culture: There are more than this article can even list: Check out the Nampa Public Library Event Calendar.
Our library is essential to the Nampa community, in ways that even frequent patrons might not know. “Public libraries are a unique and irreplaceable amenity at the foundation of our democracy of informed citizens,” said Christopher Platt, Chief Branch Library Officer, New York Public Library. “That is not changing. If anything, the public needs its public libraries more than ever, as we work to close the digital divide, help the less fortunate, and separate fact from fiction. We’re not going anywhere.”
Take a minute and donate to the Nampa Public Library today! Follow the Nampa Public Library Foundation on Facebook for details and updates.
Michael Strickland teaches at Boise State University and is the Administrative Associate for the Nampa Public Library Foundation.