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April 20, 2020

A Letter to Library Stakeholders:

It is National Library Week, and there’s no better time to reflect on the power of libraries. While most of our doors are physically closed right now, libraries are working hard to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.

Libraries bring immense value in this time and for the recovery ahead. We are already connected to our communities, strengthening community resilience and social capital in this time of crisis. Our abilities have been demonstrated through times of civil unrest, economic disruption, and natural disaster. Skills that served us through earthquakes and wildfires apply equally today – connecting people to services, providing a clearinghouse for vetted and trustworthy information, helping navigate new processes, and connecting the entire community including its most vulnerable members. In person or online, via a building or a website, libraries are critically important as we grapple with what comes next.

You don’t have to just take our word for it, people trust libraries to bring them reliable information in times of need, and we navigate the information universe for our communities, sorting facts from noise, and helping everyone to find what they need now.

Libraries strengthen local economies, acting as catalysts for job creation and workforce development, and bringing resources directly where they are needed. As the workforce and businesses recover, libraries will serve as hubs for access, navigation, and success.

Libraries are key education partners, when students are in and out of school, assisting with learning in all formats. The social and economic costs of illiteracy are devastating, and are mitigated by library programs and access to books. As students learn online, schools expand their teaching paths and families expand their roles, libraries are by their side.

Libraries build communities, adding to quality of life value, providing technology access, and acting as safe spaces. Notably, with wise connectivity investment, California’s libraries have tremendous network bandwidth, currently being used to provide online homework assistance, virtual meeting rooms, 24/7 wireless connectivity, and more. This connected pathway brings equity to communities for such challenges as voting, disaster recovery, and the 2020 Census.

Libraries are a refuge in times of crisis and continue to be so even under our current health guidance. Providing resources to cope with the mental health challenges  isolation brings, guiding families in explaining this tumultuous time to their children, and enabling everyone to connect in this new world are all part of the mission. This has always been our role, and always will be.

Research for yourself and contact your library to find out more.

It is National Library Week, and we are here for you.

Thank you for supporting your library,

Hillary Theyer, President

California Library Association

The Value of California’s Public Libraries

Libraries Matter: Impact Research

Aspen Institute: Public Libraries

Pew Research Center: Libraries

Association of College and Research Libraries: Value of Academic and Research Libraries

How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities