Herald-Whig View

Active discussion can strengthen library for all

Posted: Mar. 5, 2018 4:45 pm

QUINCY residents have the opportunity to help determine the future direction of one of the community's most valuable assets, its public library.

The Quincy Public Library is hosting two strategic planning sessions to gather public input to enable its board, staff and partner organizations develop long-term objectives to best meet the needs of the community. The first session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the second for 2 p.m. Sunday. An online survey also is available at quincylibrary.org.

We strongly urge Quincyans to take advantage and make their voices heard.

How important are public libraries? A Pew Research Center study released last year showed that 78 percent of American adults believed library helped them find information that is trustworthy and reliable. In addition, 56 percent of respondents said libraries helped them get information that aided them with decisions they had to make.

Interestingly, that same study showed that Millennials, those ages 18 to 35, were more likely to have used a public library in the previous year than any other adult generation.

The report attributed that relatively high usage by Millennials (53 percent) to changes that many public libraries have undergone in recent years -- notably becoming important community technology hubs and expanding services such as literacy programs for young children.

Moreover, the study pointed out that 65 percent of Americans of all ages believe public libraries help them grow as people, and 49 percent think libraries help them focus on things that matter in their lives.

That's why it's important for the community to help shape the kind of services and programs the Quincy Public Library will offer in the years ahead.

The library underwent extensive renovations at the beginning of this decade, the first major upgrades since the facility opened at Sixth and Jersey in 1974.

The library was expanded to 47,300 square feet, up from 34,500 square feet. This included renovations of the main floor, creating a centralized circulation desk to make operations more efficient, expanding community meeting room space, and converting the former annex into the Children's Department and connecting it to the main building.

Most of the project was funded through $5.533 million in recovery zone economic bonding authority granted to Adams County.

The library says it continues to serve an average of about 500 patrons per day, and boasts that attendance for its many programs is three times higher than libraries in three larger Illinois cities -- Springfield, Peoria and Decatur. Its outreach includes providing materials to those unable to visit the library.

While impressive, libraries must continue to evolve to remain a critical resource for people of all ages to learn and grow in today's digital age, and that requires an engaged, committed community.

Quincyans should take advantage of this important opportunity.