A library is a collection of information resources, in print or in other forms that are organized and made accessible for reading or study. It is the hub of every learning institution and facilitates boosting literacy levels in countries, continents, and the world at large. Libraries offer past and present information that help and equip patrons with explicit knowledge hence assisting to articulate and handle issues in the future.

Libraries have been around for a very long time, they started in the 7th century BCE in Iraq. Back in the day, before the advent of online search engines like google which is commonly used, people with questions commonly turned to the most reliable source they knew which was their local library; be it public, academic, private, or special.  All you had to do was ask, and the librarian would answer your question directly or refer you to a book, containing the information you sought. Before the internet, we had community centers where readers could acquire information.

Even with the presence of the internet libraries are still relevant to communities. They are a repository of knowledge and provide a lot of different library services to their visitors.

Libraries offer plenty of benefits to the community, but to highlight the main ones read below.

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They provide public spaces

They are safe spaces where everyone is welcome, and everyone belongs. Modern, purpose-built libraries are cultural and community hubs that anchor surrounding development and draw disparate groups to one space. Public and nation libraries are so of importance to their users since most give free access to patrons to a conducive environment, and are well equipped with facilities and space that can make their users comfortable while accessing the information materials.

The library is a disciplined area to study, and many people find it very difficult to study at home because of potential disturbances. Maybe your roommates are noisy eaters, and you cannot concentrate on your work because of their loud chewing and it is irritating you together with other reasons, the only safe place to study happens to be your nearest library.

Availability of information materials

Public libraries play an important role in providing safe, accessible, and free information resource centers for every member of communities across the continent and countries. At a library, it does not matter how much money you make, because every resource there is free of charge, including books, internet access, and educational and professional training programs. Individuals and families, no matter their socioeconomic status, can count on their libraries to provide them with the information resources they need to succeed and the answers to important questions they cannot otherwise find. The library offers books of all kinds, and you there are many sorts of books to choose from. There are types of genres such as science fiction, fiction, and a lot more that are kept in the library for people to borrow. I can say the library is the biggest resource for books, periodicals, and digital information materials, librarians will make sure every reader gets relevant information. S.R. Ranganathan’s second law of library science says, “Every person his or her book,” which means that librarians are to serve a wide collection of visitors and acquire literature to fit a wide variety of information needs. Many Libraries try to achieve this by ensuring their visitors have relevant information to benefit from.

Free internet connectivity

With life is changing to digital, most libraries now allow visitors to enjoy free Wi-Fi by creating hot spots at different points in and around the library. With the free internet access, you can easily have every available resource around you plus a quiet and comfy environment that you can easily study in. Libraries have even subscribed to E-books and journals for their visitors to access for free with the help of Libraries’ internet connectivity.

Well trained human resource

A library is run on the shoulders of librarians. Librarians add a lot more to the overall library experience. They can provide you with a lot of knowledge. You can ask them for book recommendations, and referrals and they will have all the recommendations at their fingertips. If you have an assignment and don’t know where to begin a librarian will guide you and point out all the treasures that are buried behind books. Librarians are highly intelligent people and can brighten your day with great suggestions. They make sure the books are classified, cataloged, and well arranged for easy access and retrieval. Although in some countries people don’t realize that to be a librarian you must go to college to study either information science or librarianship, they only see it as magic how librarians are so well versed with library operation and the way they take their duties with ease. Yes, we go through training and graduate at different levels with the knowledge to serve readers.

Libraries are a great place to socialize and network

In today’s life, networking is one key thing that enables the community to grow socially and economically. With your community members, you can get to know people that have the same interests you do. This will help you build relationships with people of similar interests. If you are new to society, going to the local library will be a great way to socialize with the community members and you will learn a lot about the norms of that community.

Although some countries do ask for a little service charge to subscribe to the services in libraries you cannot compare the benefit you get from these libraries. As Charles Duncan Mclver said: “Education is expensive; the only thing more expensive is ignorance.”

We will be back next week with another interesting article from the library world!

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Mark Mwendwa

Mark Mwendwa

Library assistant (Head Library Technical Section) at Machakos University Library in Kenya.

Have worked for more than 9 years in an academic library and around 2 years in a public library. Have written several articles in Local Dailies all advocating for Librarian recognition and employment in institution of learning.

Email : macmwendwa@gmail.com

Twitter @macmwendwa

Facebook: Mark Mwendwa