Stony Brook students studying in Melville Library. Only 44% of Americans visited a local library or bookmobile, a vehicle with an interior designed to resemble a library. DESHAUN ROBINSON/THE STATESMAN

Fanni Frankl is a sophomore journalism major and political science minor.

As I took the latest Twilight book off the shelf of my nearest library at the age of 11, I was filled with an undeniable sense of satisfaction because I was able to continue the series that had left me glued to my seat for weeks. Looking around, I saw countless students doing their homework and waiting for pages to be printed out and I could not help but feel completely at home. I would come here daily to print out work for my classes like the other students or to return books that I pored through at home.

Libraries have been receiving less and less funding every year in the U.S. They provide an educational outlet for children, teens and adults alike and provide free services to people who do not have the money for them. Libraries offer a large array of resources and programs for mind-enriching experiences away from the TV, smartphones and computers. We must do everything we can to support libraries by emphasizing how much economically-disadvantaged adults and children rely on them.

Fewer people every year are using libraries and taking advantage of its resources. Only 44% of Americans visited a local library or bookmobile, a vehicle with an interior designed to resemble a library. Three years earlier, however, this percentage was higher. Less people are using the library programs and as a result, funding has decreased since not enough people are taking advantage of them. Some people cannot afford such technologies like laptops or Wi-Fi, especially in the inner cities. It is the city’s responsibility to provide another way for these citizens to get their work done and be successful.  

People in impoverished neighborhoods do not have money for tutors or private classes to learn English or take citizenship classes. Libraries play a crucial role in allowing these educational and citizenship classes to be free. It gives them the opportunity to become successful when their neighborhood and social status make it increasingly more difficult. 

Impoverished neighborhoods especially benefit from a public institution like this because 62% of those living in households in the lowest income bracket (less than $30,000 per year) use the internet, compared with 90% of those making at least $50,000-$74,999 and 97% of those making more than $75,000. The libraries give these low-income neighborhoods an opportunity to decrease this divide and integrate public access to the internet so the divide between the rich and poor is not so large. Children in low-income neighborhoods who are part of the 38% of households who do not use the internet now have an educational environment to succeed. 

Programs libraries also offer citizenship and English classes for children and immigrants to receive a free, enriching experience that they may not have access to otherwise.

When I was young, I would go to libraries for arts and crafts and to learn another language with many other children. I also would notice countless flyers advertising free classes being taught there to teach the elderly how to use the internet and work a computer. Many of these programs will become unavailable if we fail to take advantage of these opportunities and stand up for them. I did not have reliable internet in my home, so the library provided me with the information I needed to do my homework and print school work when I had no other alternative. Students like me rely on a place like this for themselves and it offers a safety net for students who have a drive to succeed. It is the city’s and the public’s job to make sure that these vital programs remain afloat to ensure that students and people in impoverished neighbors have access to educational programs and technology.

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