Why Libraries Matter

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This week is National Library Week. This year's theme, "Libraries = Strong Communities," reminds us that public libraries remain a vital part of the fabric of society in towns, cities, and neighborhoods across the country. In fact, there are more public libraries in the United States than there are Starbucks!

Our Central Library and five branch libraries help our community in several ways. In the past year, we've

  • Hosted world-class authors as part of the AViD series.
  • Helped 5,000 children stay smart during the summer as part of our summer reading program.
  • Taught digital literacy to dozens of adults.
  • Put on a family-friendly festival for fandoms during MyDMPL Con.
  • Served as a center for life-long learning by hosting programs about gardening, history, music, and much more.

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We are proud of the the services we provide and the way we help our patrons. According to the city's Resident Satisfacation Survey, 83% of Des Moines residents see the library as a resource center for the community, and 89% are happy with the helpfulness of library staff. The library provides much needed computer services for residents. About 25% of households in the city of Des Moines do not have broadband internet. The library serves as the only place where anyone can use the internet for free. Every 20 seconds, someone is logging onto the library's public access computers to connect with family and friends, search for jobs, write resumes, and more.

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You don't have to just take our word for it though. Some business and community leaders explain why they think libraries are important to the community:

Mayor Frank Cownie

Joseph Jones, Director of the Harkin Institute
The library provides free access to information and provides learning opportunities that many people would otherwise not be able to afford or obtain. Reading is fundamental to a child’s growth and is a life-long passion to be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Josh Mandelbaum, Des Moines City Council member

Former Library Director Elaine Estes
The public library concept in America makes it the most important public institution.  It is the only public institution that provides service and supports all age people at every level appropriate to educate and recreate.  It evolves to meet changing needs of the community.

Sue Woody, Director, Des Moines Public Library

Mark Siebert, DMPL Foundation Board Member, professor at Simpson College
I think the library is one of the few places where all citizens of a city come together, regardless of their background, jobs or socio-economic background.

We invite you to spread the message of libraries. If you think your library is important, we invite you to share this post on your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media accounts. It doesn't matter if you use the Des Moines Public Library, another library in the metro, or a library on the other side of the country. Explain why libraries are important to you, using the hashtag #MyLibraryMyStory - and don't forget to tag us! (@desmoineslibrary on Instagram, @dmpl on Twitter, Des Moines Public Library on Facebook.)

Thank you for your support!