May 29, 2008

Libraries as Catalysts

As a kid growing up in a small rural town, one of the most valuable assets that the local library provided for the community was, in my opinion, their possession of the coldest water fountain in the world.  I kid you not, I don't know what kind of coolant they were running through that thing but it was bone jarringly cold, we're talking space-age cold, and oh so refreshing after a long day of cruising around town on your huffy.  However, the good folks over at Friends of African Village Libraries (one of the few blogs with a name as equally cumbersome as my own) point to a study outlining the role of libraries in fostering the growth of local economies.  Here's their excerpt:
Public libraries build a community’s capacity for economic activity and resiliency, says a new study from the Urban Institute. Making Cities Stronger: Public Library Contributions to Local Economic Development adds to the body of research pointing to a shift in the role of public libraries -- from a passive, recreational reading and research institution to an active economic development agent, addressing such pressing urban issues as literacy, workforce training, small business vitality and community quality of life. ... As the strong correlation between investments in early literacy and long-term economic success is documented, public libraries are expanding beyond their traditional story time services, engaging in high-impact strategies with community partners. They are leading public awareness campaigns, reaching new mothers with materials and resources that promote reading early and often. Extensive community-wide training on early literacy with home and professional child care givers is increasing levels of school readiness and success. From Providence (RI) to San Luis Obispo (CA), public libraries are reaching young children and families in diverse neighborhoods. These services are the first link in a chain of investments needed to build the educated workforce that ensures local competitiveness in the knowledge economy.
Interesting stuff.  Here's the study. 


Pomeroy Kinsey said...

Oh my gosh. I can't believe you said that. That was the coldest water fountain ever. I remember burning up, going in there, and drinking like a freaking dog! That's so funny. I can't believe we both noticed that (though if it's as cold as we remember, I'm sure everyone knew it too).

Pomeroy Kinsey said...

...and I meant to say, very interesting research. Thanks for the tip.

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