What part will libraries play in 2018? Many people believe libraries will continue to serve as the place for responsible information and fact-finding about the world we live in. After 2017 and the spread of fake news, libraries may in fact supply the instruction and truthful guidance we are looking for.
All too often, these days people seem to accept Tweets and Facebook posts as real news. Just to be clear, even though you like your friends, that does not mean everything they share on social media is credible. It has become increasingly more difficult to rely on the internet as a source for news and counsel about what is going on in the world.
Thankfully, statistics have found that people are turning to libraries to gather information and educate themselves. An admittedly limited but important example can be found at The New York Public Library. In 2017, they saw a 7% increase in circulation and a 150% increase in early literacy program attendance. Their 92 branches are packed full of people and their top checkout of the year was “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.” (Marx 2018) This book, written by the author to his teenage son about being black in the United States, is a prime example of people searching for real answers as opposed to relying on a hashtag to inform them. This is not a cry for people to only read nonfiction, political news. Getting engulfed in a great work of fiction can do just as much to help shape and inform people.
Many libraries are following suit, as an example, Brooklyn Public Library’s 2017 initiative to waive all fines that may be blocking patrons from using the library. This fresh start may be just what is needed in order to help people stay informed. As a community, we need to use our libraries to promote awareness of issues concerning social justice and racial justice and help our patrons find facts related to current events.
Marx, Tony. 2018. “In 2018, libraries to the rescue: Why Americans are right to crave facts, and books.” New York Daily News, January 01.