To the Editor:
I had the opportunity of viewing candidates night over my laptop and have been following the discussion about funding for a new city library in DeKalb. As a former academic library director at several institutions, this topic is close to my heart.
I fully understand the difficult economy and how it is impacting many of our friends and neighbors. However, I hope both the DeKalb City Council and the community take a hard look at taking advantage of perhaps a once in a lifetime assistance from the state to finally help DeKalb build a new public library after forty years.
With our changing technological environment, a new public library can become a hub for creativity by connecting people, resources and the means to turn their ideas into meaningful ventures. A new public library can help establish economic and workforce development by working with public/private enterprises and assisting those in need of workforce information since the DeKalb unit has closed.
Public libraries are not becoming obsolete. They are becoming virtual information centers and are necessary to prevent a digital divide. This divide cuts across age groups from preschool to our senior citizens.
Public libraries can work in partnership with local schools, and in doing so increase student sign-up for library cards and increase a variety of database usage. It can help reinforce the importance of digital library literacy in the classroom. Perhaps most importantly, a new public library would help our population develop stronger critical reasoning and digital literary skills.
We all know how important good schools, including good libraries, are for attracting economic development and housing demands. New roles for libraries are being created almost daily as they fit into the 21st century.
Planning for a possible new library has been going on for almost two years. I understand there has been much time put into what the library would look like. Unfortunately, the DeKalb Library Board, the Friends of the Library, the library staff, the city and other interested parties should have been educating the public to the necessity of this venture if residents want a dynamic, well-educated and economically viable community.
It is not too late.