By Kitty Hall
(Member of the Eastern Shore Public Library Trustees)
Libraries are very different today than they were when I was growing up or getting my education. I have entered my seventh decade and there is little to remind me of the libraries I used long ago. Libraries are different, but they have changed to meet the needs of the public. Libraries today are transforming communities. Cara Burton, Eastern Shore Public Library Director, and I attended the conference, The Transformative Power of Community Engagement: How High-Impact Librarians are Building Better Communities. We learned that some libraries have a “Makerspace” where patrons have Minecraft Competitions, Lego and Robotics Competitions, Digital Video Production and Gaming Tournaments. Libraries build community- both by connecting people to information, and connecting people to people. Libraries are safe havens for kids when school is not in session, offering after-school homework help, games and book clubs. Libraries offer computer classes; enabling older adults and others to stay engaged in a digital world, apply for a job or register to vote. Community outreach programs keep those living in remote areas or those who are housebound connected to the larger community. As a great equalizing institution, libraries continue to provide access to information to all, every age, every income level, ethnicity, or physical ability. Libraries promote literacy, helping children and adults develop the skills they need to survive and thrive in a global information society. Libraries protect your rights, your right to read and your right to reader privacy. Freedom of information is fundamental to the American way of life, and free and full access sets us apart from many countries. I am grateful that libraries have changed and have enabled the transformation of our communities to meet the information needs of our society.