LETTER: Library’s role in the community

Farm Forum

Recently, the American News published a letter questioning the need for a new library in Aberdeen (Feb. 5). It was suggested that perhaps the community would be better off supporting “something to help benefit more activity in the community,” such as an indoor community center.

I would like to suggest that a public library does just that; however, it benefits intellectual activity, rather than physical. I would further suggest that any well-rounded, progressive community needs to offer both.

A strong public library program provides a variety of activities and materials to a wide cross-section of any community. Books, magazines, newspapers, videos/DVDs, e-books, research assistance in genealogy and job hunting, reading guidance and literacy programs are just a few activities provided by Aberdeen’s public library.

Activities for preschool through teens are offered, as well as book clubs and discussion groups for adults. Computer access is a huge part of public library service since not everyone has a computer or Internet service. Libraries also offer assistance to persons with disabilities and the elderly in the form of a variety of services.

Public libraries should be lifelong learning cultural centers. Having served on the library board and being a user of libraries, I think I can say that Alexander Mitchell Public Library fulfills that role the best it can in its present facility. But a new, modern library building will serve the Aberdeen community in an even larger role.

If American News readers opposing the new library would take the time to look at the usage statistics of not only the Alexander Mitchell Public Library, but all South Dakota public libraries, they might be amazed. Statistics on the South Dakota State Library website show that in 2011, 4 million library visits occurred across the state. That is nearly 2 million more people than visited Mount Rushmore that year. Libraries are a vital part of any community’s activities. We need a newer, progressive facility to reflect our progressive community.

Susan Johnston