I sometimes hear from people who have not been to a library in a very long time. I am passing no judgment. I do not mean to condescend or diminish anyone. Some very intelligent, wonderful people never visit a library. These people do not understand why libraries still exist.
First, books. Many librarians start this argument with "more than books" because today's libraries most certainly are much more than books, and I wholeheartedly agree with that. I do not, however, concede books. The reports of the death of the printed word have been greatly exaggerated. Electronic books are tree-saving, economical boon to reading everywhere. Does that mean paper books are the new rotary phone? No. Some readers have never and will never make the change. Some books do not translate well. Picture books for children are tactile; turning the page is a lesson in literacy. Sometimes you want or need to unplug, and yet still read. Ada deserves books.
Many think that because most new popular books are also available electronically, then we do not need libraries. Can't you just read your new book in the Internet? No. Like print books, electronic books are not free. Libraries give us all the freedom to read, to discover, to sample, to try, no matter our monthly budget. We can truly choose to educate ourselves in almost anything by borrowing books. We can borrow eBooks as well print books and have the choice: science or short story, travel or tall tale. Come to a library and a librarian will help find what you are looking for among the estimated million books published in the US each year. Librarians will also show you how to borrow an eBook from the library or find that obscure book that isn't available electronically. Ada deserves local librarians.
Libraries have also grown. In addition to books and eBooks, come find out about movies and eMovies, music and eMusic, magazines and eMagazines, newspapers and eNewspapers, and more. At the Cascade library, patrons can also check out iPads, Go Pros (video cameras), a Green Screen (movie making prop), Launch Pads (Educational Tablet for children), seeds, and look in the near future for circulating bicycles. All of this, from books to bikes, make up the library's collection, the collection is fast becoming the smaller half of the library picture, the part many librarians insist a library is more than. Ada deserves a collection.
Another real part of every library, the part that is now stressed only because it is so often overlooked, is a safe, comfortable, indoor community space. Libraries provide spaces where a community is welcome. Who would come to a well lit, Wi-Fi enabled, comfortable space? Families. Each Kent District Library contains a KDLville, play areas devoted to children, parents and early literacy. Parents learn as much as children do about the very beginning of a child's love for reading. Early literacy is nourished in a library, not only by the play space, but with regular story time programs, toddler times, baby times. It is nourished with programs like "1,000 Books Before Kindergarten," and it is nourished by bringing books home, by the handfuls, regularly. Ada children alone would be more than enough reason that Ada deserves a library.
Ada adults deserve one too. Adults meet in the study rooms at the library. Adults tutor children in reading. Adults bring their laptops and work in quiet anonymity. Adults meet up with adults and work together, forming businesses, working on group projects, coordinating nonprofits, teams, committees, and neighborhood groups. Adults lounge in comfortable chairs and read newspapers and magazines of every variety. Adults run in to use the computer, to use the printer, to make some copies, to scan a document, to ask a librarian's advice, to take a computer class. Ada deserves an indoor public space.
Libraries provide free programs, educational programs, entertaining programs, social programs. KDL patrons last year learned to paint, to cook, to make beer, to chart stars, and to play the ukulele among many many other programs. These programs give a community the chance to get to know each other and to explore their world. Ada deserves a place that will foster life-long learning.
Lastly, and arguably most importantly, the reason that so many of our surrounding communities have libraries of their own, libraries are the hubs of their communities. Libraries draw repeat visitors from their community, and keeps them returning again and again and again. Local libraries like East Grand Rapids boast close to a thousand visitors a day. Ada businesses deserve a library. Library patrons are also good customers.