Don't take libraries for granted

April 09, 2003|By Carla D. Hayden

AMERICANS HAVE several beacons of light in what seem to be dark and fearful times, among them libraries.

The Enoch Pratt Free Library is proud to join the American Library Association in celebrating all that libraries have to offer during National Library Week this week.

Every day, more than 120,000 librarians nationwide connect students, families, senior citizens, businesspeople, teachers and professors with the information they need to be successful in a swiftly changing and increasingly troubled era.

Americans rely on libraries for help in finding jobs, using the Internet, demystifying technology, getting free access to thousands of books and videotapes and connecting with their neighbors and colleagues. And this couldn't be more relevant in Baltimore City, where more than 23 percent of our residents live at or below the poverty level.

The staff at the Pratt works to meet the needs of the community by providing seminars on race relations, building personal assets, entrepreneurship, computer training and more.

As the State Library Resource Center for Maryland, the Pratt is dedicated to assisting residents across the state in finding information they need 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are a major support of the new "Ask Us Now" statewide library reference service, an invaluable resource. And it's all free of charge.

Librarians are committed to freedom of access to information and are fighting to ensure that such freedom remains intact so that no one is afraid to search for answers to important questions. It is often easy to take our libraries and librarians for granted.

Carla D. Hayden is the executive director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library and president-elect of the American Library Association.

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