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Insights from the President

Keeping Our Library Alive and Vital

Ever wonder what makes a society strong?

Equal access to ideas, knowledge, and skills might be a good place to start.

So now you’re possibly thinking this is going to be an op-ed about the internet: our great social technology experiment. But no, we’re talking about an even greater experiment that has survived the test of time and is potentially even more relevant in today’s world: the public library.

The name of the first public library in the U.S., founded in 1778, might sound familiar as the Franklin Public Library in Massachusetts was named after the good doctor Benjamin Franklin.  Of course it would have been a shorter ride back in the day for Taoseños to visit the public library founded by Bishop Juan de Palafox y Mendoza in 1646 in what is today Puebla City, Mexico. The bishop said: “He who succeeds without books is in an inconsolable darkness.”

Today, locally, we’re blessed with the Taos Public Library.  This vibrant institution services both the town and county residents. (Got a free library card in your wallet?)

If you’re questioning the choice of the word “vibrant,” consider this: annually, the Taos Public Library has over 57,000 physical items (e.g. books) out in circulation. And that figure doesn’t include over 23,000 digital items.

Over the years, the Taos Public Library has had to evolve by expanding its offerings to include e-books, audio books, laptops, 3D printers, etc. And, yes, you can sit in the library and access the internet at one of ten desktop computers. If you haven’t been in the library recently, you might not have noticed the number of people who take advantage of this last service given the cost of access and bandwidth in our rural community.

More recently, a new leader has been added to the mix. The town has hired Sarah Bryson as Director of Library Services. Sarah brings to the job a master’s degree in library science along with a youthful perspective and a refreshing energy.

Still, the future holds its challenges. For a library to stay relevant, to regularly update the media catalogue, to keep up with technological advancements, etc., requires the vocal – and financial – support of our community.  The town of Taos with its limited budget can only do so much.

That’s why the Friends of the Taos Public Library, an all-volunteer non-profit organization, works to raise funds for the library through a variety of activities. These funds and volunteer efforts help to support on-going programs, to expand services, and, yes, even to buy books.  You, too, can support these efforts to keep our library and our community strong.

 

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