The rural public library is gaining enormous importance in rural communities. Even though this is a global trend, it is steadily trending in developing societies. The institution of public libraries is well organized in developed nations. They usually allocate a sizable budget for the promotion and development of libraries and community centers.
Some anthropologists argue about the relationship between public libraries and cultural settings. Knowledge lasts a huge influence over the local cultural traits and practices. On the other hand, we can say that communities enjoying the facilities of rural public libraries can better transform and reshape their local cultural values.
There is a general perception that modern means of information have restricted the outreach of libraries in the community. But we should not ignore the participatory factor in the libraries. On the other hand, In the rural public libraries, villagers and students have direct access to the library staff who can guide and facilitate them more effectively.
The Importance of Public Libraries in Rural Communities
As stated before, public libraries provide an alternate method of access to information and cultural resources for rural communities. There is a general perception that public libraries provide many services to both individuals and the community. It has become an important mode of communication for students, who are drawn to attend cultural activities at a public library. In addition, it has become an area of expression for poor people, who are unable to find information in print media.
Community libraries serve as a repository for numerous types of library materials that are very useful to both individuals and the community. These libraries can provide a large-scale local cultural and literary resource for community members, especially the illiterate and the rural poor.
The Value of a Rural Library
There are many potential reasons to establish a public library in a rural community, such as access to the community, access to information, as well as access to materials for school children, and college students. Each time a new town is created in a rural community, new libraries are established. The first-built library was the Anderson Free Public Library in Arizona. It was donated by a Scottsdale, Arizona store owner, James L. Anderson, in 1908. The library was named the Jim Anderson Memorial Library, and it is the oldest and largest free public library in the United States.
This library’s accessibility made it an important institution in the community. According to Daniel Harl, president of N.C. Cooperative Library System, the library is able to provide services at a very low cost.
What Makes a Rural Library Unique?
There are several things that make a rural library distinct from other libraries. This will help you in identifying whether a rural library is an ideal match for your community.
Lending Library – A rural library is less accessible to the public. one can only borrow the study material or books from the librarian.
Self-Checkout – Since libraries are limited in space, they cannot keep enough books to meet the demands of the library users, so a self-checkout system is one of the most preferred options.
Audiovisual Services – A rural library is meant for people in the countryside, so it must provide video library services and a computer lab for online support.
Flexibility – A rural library caters to a range of people. So, it has the flexibility to cater to the readers.
Supporting the Local Economy
In many rural communities, there are high rates of unemployment. Moreover, in such communities, there are inadequate opportunities for economic growth. The rural public library can play a crucial role in helping communities and schools by providing activities that can provide opportunities for a wide range of skills and talents to the villagers.
In addition to this, they have been found to be very useful in encouraging the students to read and becoming enthusiastic and passionate about the books. Additionally, they have been found to be useful in creating communication between the communities and the teachers.
Libraries provide cultural resources for the community
Libraries also provide culturally relevant, rich, and diverse resources to support literacy development for children. Youth and adults in rural areas can have access to a lot of stuff matching their own taste of reading. They can have the maximum possible programs there. These programs include learning materials, volunteer opportunities, parent programs, advocacy, public events, and book groups. A lot of activities are there for the young and old, such as the art room, computer lab, and outreach to schools, preschools.
In fact, all governments try their best to provide maximum facilities at the local level. It makes the local communities more empowered. Rural to urban migration is also an emerging challenge nowadays. So, the equal distribution of resources can help to lessen the ongoing trend of migration to the urban centers.
Services Offered by the Rural Library
There are a lot of services a typical library can offer. It depends upon the allocation of resources to that particular library or community center. So, the following are some of the services usually provided by the library:
1. Set-up of Online Information Service Platforms for the Community
2. Contribute to the Child Literacy Programs of the Government of India
3. Open Computer Centers
4. Information and Publications Center
5. Use of Information Technology
6. Artwork Display and Exhibit of the Cultural Heritage of the State
7. Registering of Persons with Intellectual Disability
8. Provide Information on Adult Literacy Programs
9. Migrant workers information & guidance
10. Book Bank, library in a truck
11. Emergency Medical Service
12. Entertainment: Movies and Shows
13. Women Empowerment
14. Languages of the Community
15. Information on Nutrition
16. Advanced Reference
17. Library Book Section
Even though the usage of the world wide web and digital technology is increasing rapidly, there are still some countries that are yet to fully embrace this development. While rural dwellers are relying on the existing public libraries, other people in the rural communities are still having difficulties accessing such facilities and services. In this article, I tried to discuss some of the important considerations to consider when thinking about a rural public library.
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