When libraries ask for funding from any level of government, it’s an uphill battle. Politicians like to have their names prominently displayed on signs next to public works project; building new roads, repairing sewer systems. You can’t blame them, it’s how they get re-elected and keep their jobs. What makes it so challenging for libraries is that the phrase “non-profit organization” doesn’t excite government leaders who are trying to convince the public they are creating jobs and growing the economy. And yet, libraries do contribute to the economy!
Libraries provide employment for their staff. If there are twenty staff members. that’s twenty citizens who are earning a living, spending money at local stores and not competing for scarce employment opportunities in the community. Hiring student volunteers also contributes to local economy; they learn the importance of being punctual, they learn how to take directions and they develop useful interpersonal skills. At the library, they learn the basic skills they need to be successful in the workforce.
Writers may be thought of as artists, but they are also entrepreneurs; their books are products they promote in the marketplace. By not only purchasing books by local authors, but also inviting them to lead seminars and participate in public readings, the library is helping writers promote and sell their products. If a local writer becomes successful, she’ll be buying a new car at a local dealership and making travel arrangements for her book tour through a travel agency in your town. If the writer includes references to your town in the book, it will help put your town on the map and generate tourism revenue.
Libraries aren’t given enough credit for how they help shape the future of the economy. If someone has an interest in starting a bakery, but doesn’t have the resources to attend a culinary school, he can begin the process by going to the local library and borrowing recipe books. Who knows what might result from just starting the process; a new local bakery, or a national franchise with it’s headquarters in your town.
A student attending high school has an interest in Engineering, but isn’t quite sure it’s the path she should follow. Fortunately, she can borrow books about the subject from the library to help her make that important decision. A lot of time, effort and money can be saved by going to the local library and doing some research. If you read books or watch videos by motivational experts like Tony Robbins and Jack Canfield, they stress the importance of finding your gift, the natural ability that you can develop into a successful career. When someone uses the resources of their local library to discover and develop their talents everyone benefits; new businesses are created, and with them, job opportunities.
The most important way libraries contribute to the economy, however, is how they encourage people to let their imaginations run free. We spend so much of our lives being told what to do, what schedule to follow, and what to believe. If we want the economy to grow, we need citizens who can imagine a better future, design new products, and create new industries. It all begins with the question, “What If?” and that’s a question that all libraries encourage us to ask.
Libraries have been an important part of my life for many years, so I’m excited that my eBook, What If? A Collection of Short Fiction by J. Paul Cooper is available as a download through several libraries in Canada and the United States. I’ve enjoyed learning about new authors through the books I’ve borrowed and now readers are borrowing my eBook.
Copyright is important to me, so please give me credit if you choose to quote from any of my blog posts. I’ve seen my eBook listed on several websites offering “free” eBooks, but I haven’t tried downloading it. It’s possible hackers are using the promise of free books as an opportunity to download Trojan viruses on computers.
Hoping that this week you’ll find time to write and share your voice with the world.
J. Paul Cooper