Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021 08:00 [IST]
Last Update: Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021 02:28 [IST]
Libraries are not the kinds of institutions that social scientists, policy makers, and community leaders usually bring up when they discuss social capital and how to build it. We tend to forget that the library is among the most critical forms of social infrastructure that we have.
Libraries are important cornerstones of a healthy community. Libraries give people the opportunity to learn, find jobs, explore medical research, experience new ideas, get lost in wonderful stories, while at the same time providing a sense of place for gathering.
A community library reflects the diversity and character, and the needs and expectations of our community. Those needs and expectations are often extensive, and the services invaluable. It is often the only readily available source of comprehensive information needed by people for personal, family and job-related purposes. Our community's economy benefits when business people use library resources to make wise business decisions, employees use it to improve job skills, or the disadvantaged use it to help break the cycle of poverty.
A reason public libraries are seen as such important third-place institutions is that they and their librarians have gradually taken on other functions well beyond lending out books. In many communities, librarians are also ad hoc social workers and navigators. They help local people figure out the complexities of life, from navigating the health system to helping those with housing needs. This “go-to” role has influenced library programming and events, with libraries providing advice and connections to health, housing, literacy, and other areas.
Even as we undervalue the importance of books and libraries in this digital age, let us not forget that it is central to the life activities of large numbers of people, is an important space in which public culture is constructed and lived, and thus has a deep sense of place attachment for its users. The world over, the digital age has seen the decline of libraries - with more and more governments cutting crucial funding that supports public libraries. As the younger generation turns to the internet, the importance of libraries cannot be discounted. Libraries are the real heritage of a city.
In this light, it is heartening that a large number of individuals and NGOs, have initiated the importance task of reviving the practice of reading and communities libraries in Sikkim. Read and Grow” is one of the campaigns started by the SKM Students’ Wing and Sikkim Vidyarti Morcha to inculcate reading habit among people of all age groups, especially the students and youth in Sikkim. The aim is to collect books through a donation drive across the State. The books collected would be placed in reading corners and libraries to be installed by the two organisations in different rural areas.
Every individual should make a commitment to support all such campaigns related to setting up of libraries and community reading rooms. The intellectual and economic health of our community depends on it.