Help to keep open a 'window to a larger world'

January 20, 2009|By Carla D. Hayden

President-elect Barack Obama has stated that "literacy is the highway to success" and that libraries represent "a window to a larger world." Adviser David Axelrod recently said libraries will be part of the proposed economic stimulus package.

As the nation and the world look to a new chapter in history, these statements leave me optimistic.

During these tough economic times, library services across the nation are in great demand. Families are examining their budgets and turning to libraries more than ever. People from all walks of life are discovering that they can save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars by taking advantage of the resources offered at the library.

Across the country, libraries are helping citizens and meeting the day-to-day information needs of Americans regardless of age, economic status, educational background or geographical location. In these uncertain times, libraries have remained a constant, something Americans can count on.

During this economic downturn, the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore is seeing an increase in use of its free resources and tools. The Pratt's Career Center has had a 92 percent increase in attendance for job help programs such as resume writing and interview basics. As some residents tighten their budgets by sacrificing Internet service at home, the Pratt has also become the place where many Baltimoreans go for Internet access.

Unfortunately, libraries nationwide are facing difficult fiscal challenges. It's now incumbent on all of us to make sure no one closes that "window to a larger world."

Carla D. Hayden is CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Her e-mail is

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