Why Millis should vote for a new library

The people of Millis face a crucial choice on Tuesday – support a new library and a master plan for the town’s future, or vote against it. The vote centers, for now, on the library. Libraries in the digital era may seem like anachronisms, but public libraries were never about books. They were formed to create access to information for all our populace. Our vote Tuesday measures our civic commitment to the flow of information democracy requires. We fool ourselves if we think the vast resources of the Internet, the spread of electronic readers and the like negate the need for a community information repository. In fact, many Americans lack broadband, and a substantial minority across all demographics remain uninterested in the Internet. Much information remains offline, and much of what is online does not contribute to our civic polity. When we’re awash in information, librarians more than ever provide a valuable community resource, as a way to target truly useful information. More to the point, libraries guard against information being restricted via the costs of Internet service, a computer or other reading device, and various media. Libraries also provide a bulwark of privacy in an era where the information we search online can be used to profile us.

In Millis, we have a library building nearing the end of its useful life, with maintenance costs that will drain future town budgets in unexpected ways. Yes, our town remains in the grip of economic recession, even after our state and the country have begun to turn around.  But we’re only being asked for a few dollars a month, and for long-time residents, these dollars simply replace those they paid for the Clyde F. Brown elementary school. The school investment will continue to pay back the community for some time to come, as will an investment in the library. Schools bolster society. So do libraries. We must guarantee the broad availability of information for all citizens, and the information expertise librarians provide. Public libraries form a cornerstone of American communities, and a pillar of our democracy. I hope on Tuesday people vote to continue our commitment to the library.

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