More than just books

Why public libraries deserve more love


Isaiah Salin

A student uses a library computer to complete an assignment. Library computers are a vital resource to students.

Visiting the library is always a fun experience for me. Whenever I walk in, I’m greeted by a friendly librarian. I return the greeting, and go to find the book I’m looking for, and maybe grab another that seems appealing. It’s convenient, and the entire process of finding a book and checking it out rarely takes more than ten minutes. Although I usually only get books from the public library, there is a multitude of other services it provides.

Public libraries are one of the most important resources we have available. At the public library, we can find books we need or want to read, we can use them as a meeting place for study groups, and they offer free internet for patrons to use. However, most of us rarely, if ever, visit the public library and its vast resources go untouched.

Our public libraries are completely free to use. They’re funded mainly by taxes, so any resident of St. Charles County can use our public libraries. Our county’s public library system has 12 branches, with three branches in St. Charles, one in St. Peters, and three in O’Fallon. Most of us live within walking distance of a public library branch, so we all have them available close by.

Our public libraries offer us a plethora of books to read. As a child, I remember going to the public library to find a copy of a children’s book I’d wanted to read. I’d use the public library to find novels I had recommended to me, or to read through a series of novels, since my parents were hesitant to buy novels for me as a child (and still are.) More recently, I’ve used the library to get books for English projects.

They don’t just offer books, though. You can borrow CDs, movies, and even board games from the public library. Librarians are willing to help us with book recommendations or point us in the right direction for research we’re doing. Recently, I even got my passport renewed at my local public library branch.

Our libraries have computers as well. We can use them for free, and they’re becoming increasingly more necessary as more and more of what we do is digitized. Our homework is being moved online, our mail is increasingly seen in our email rather than our physical mailboxes, and we are increasingly expected to do light research and write our papers online.

Libraries also serve as a great study area. They’re quiet, meaning you can finish your reading, your notes, or a paper in a quiet environment. They’re also a great place to convene a study group or meet for other academic purposes.

Public libraries offer such a wide variety of resources to us, and for free. We’ve already paid for them simply by living here, so why don’t we use them more? A large reason many of us don’t use the library for movies and music is because we have them easily available to us via streaming services. We more often are inclined to use Netflix for movies and shows to watch, and Spotify for music, rather than going to our public libraries. Rather than using resources already available to us (for free, no less), we turn to more convenient options.

Despite the perceived inconvenience, however, going to a public library is still the superior option. Public libraries are one of the best resources we have available, and we definitely should be making more use of them.

Visit the website of the St. Charles City-County Library District here.