On the Importance of the Library

March 31, 2023

As society’s level of codependence on technology marches ever onward, print media has been deemed antiquated. E-books, audiobooks, to-movie adaptations, and even the Saint Scroll itself have moved on from the supposedly byzantine process. While many deem libraries and bookstores as remnants of the past, does today’s society still need them? 

Yes. And it’s an unequivocal, wholehearted yes. Within the past twenty years, especially since 2020, technology and the internet have become the primary way students learn, interact, and communicate. Platforms such as Canvas, DeltaMath, and Google Classroom, although surely used for years prior, have become so ingrained and integral to the modern scholastic system that leaving them behind feels like taking three steps backward. 

A local volunteer within the Los Angeles County Public Library system recalls that “we [the library staff] did a complete 180 during [the Pandemic]. Our resources became more devoted to e-books and technology literacy.” Programs such as online homework help, free resources turned toward the WiFi router, and meetings became digitized to such a degree that, now, clarification is needed to notify an event will occur in person. 

Even before the public health crisis was pushed to the interwebs, the resources allocated to libraries were diminished. Jodi Cruz, the Media Center Assistant and Librarian for San Dimas High School, “If there’s a group of people who need to meet,” she says, “they come to the Media Center and that takes away from it being a library.” What was once the sole bastion of literature on campus has metamorphosed into a general area, simultaneously filled with forum and fiction.

Though not necessarily something negative, this change by the school illustrates the shifting role that literature, and perhaps even intellectualism and the pursuit of knowledge, play in the daily lives of children. Cruz remembers that “[she] had an encyclopedia growing up” whose format makes the peruser enjoy the act of finding whatever they were looking for just as much as whatever they were searching for. Gen Z and Gen Alpha are so ingratiated in the instant result of the internet that this beauty is often neglected. 

“[Physical books] are such a treasure. And it’s a shame that the younger generations won’t really have them,” Cruz laments. For dozens, maybe even hundreds of students on campus, many of their fondest memories were centered around and tied to books. Parents and guardians reading bedtime stories, the surge of pride after finishing a book without pictures for the first time, or even the shared disdain for certain required novels are unique experiences wholeheartedly reliant on the novel. 

But hope is not lost. Regardless of how libraries are changed or morphed, they will never be tossed aside. The desire and the need for print media and the community libraries will always exist. The resources provided, the forum established, and the enrichment given by all of the hallowed halls containing centuries of human indomitability is indispensable.

At San Dimas, events like College Fairs and Courageous Conversations help uplift and motivate students on campus. Countywide, information about taxes, housing, schooling, and fiscal situations is being distributed for much of the same reasons. 

The slow crescendo back into literature is happening alongside this. Within San Dimas, dozens of storytimes and book clubs are being held at the Public Library. Closer to home, new books are routinely being processed, recommended, and implemented to pique the interests of all students, regardless of interests and aptitudes.

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