The readers’ forum

Libraries: Valuable, lifelong learning tool


In the new reality of today’s knowledge economy, it’s difficult to achieve economic success or enjoy a decent quality of life without a range of basic literacy, language and technological skills. As increasing numbers of residents turn to digital books, Wikipedia, and other online tools for information and entertainment, there’s a growing sense that the age of the public library is over. But, in reality, public libraries are more essential than ever.

This week, the Miami-Dade Public Library System (MDPLS) joins libraries in schools, campuses and communities nationwide in celebrating National Library Week, a time to highlight the value of libraries, librarians and library workers.

The MDPLS is a vibrant community learning center that provides residents equal access to technology and information. Mayor Carlos Gimenez has made this an important part of his administration’s goals and objectives. We support the pursuit of lifelong learning through our services, programs, and collections. All 49 branch libraries are inviting, people-friendly places that are community anchors.

In 2012, our libraries welcomed more than 8 million visitors and loaned more than 8 million books or other resources.

As the largest provider of free Internet service to the community, the library system provided over 1.5 million one-hour computer sessions, and offered 7,177 cultural and educational programs last year.

Service to the community has always been the focus of the library. While this aspect has never changed, libraries have grown and evolved in how they provide for the needs of every member of their community.

The residents of Miami-Dade County clearly value their library system as it continues to be heavily used.

The library remains a vital part of this community because it is a user-centric government department that is able to change and adapt to provide the resources, services, and programs most needed by the community.

As we celebrate National Library Week 2013, we honor the value libraries bring to the community; contributions that support the lifelong learning goals of our residents and provide our citizens with the opportunity for civic engagement. We are proud to be an integral part of the Miami-Dade County family.

Raymond Santiago, director, Miami-Dade Public

Library System, Miami

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