If you have the skills to read a newspaper, quickly skim a restaurant menu or savor the first chapter of a new book, you have learned an incredible skill that will enhance your life many times over. In the United States, the richest country in the world, an astonishing 32 million American adults – 14% of the population – are considered illiterate.
While the causes of illiteracy are many, having a library near one’s home can make a huge difference. Libraries have a special responsibility to everyone in a community, but especially to children, to support the process of learning to read. They do this by providing an open environment that fosters creativity and exploration through diverse story times, access to books, art activities and family areas with opportunities to role play, build and discover. All of these things foster brain development, early literacy and math skills. Libraries empower children to become confident and competent people.
Most people know they can borrow books from a public library for free. But did you know you also can borrow – not rent – movies, newspapers, magazines, e-books, puzzles, cake pans, ukuleles and early literacy kits? At your library, you have access to free WiFi and various databases such as BrainFuse Help Now, which provides academic support for all levels. Libraries offer classes both online and in-person. Gardening, cooking and nutrition classes, as well as STEM and STEAM programs, are just some examples of what is available.
If you live in Albuquerque, then you’re familiar with the 7600 block of Central Avenue that was once the location of the famous Caravan East Nightclub. The club closed, and in late 2016 the city of Albuquerque purchased the property to build a new public library in SE Albuquerque. Years of planning will come to completion with the soon-to-be-opened International District Library.
This district, home to a diverse population and amazingly more than 40 spoken languages, has lacked many services for years. What could be better than a world-class library? In 2019, a Gallup poll found visiting a library is the most common cultural activity Americans engage in by far. What will Albuquerque residents find when they visit the International District Library? dr Shelle Sanchez, the Arts and Cultural Director for the city, says there will be a large community room “with wooden floors perfect for dance classes”; spaces for those who prefer quiet time to read and study; a place that teens can call their own; plenty of computers; and a welcoming children’s area.
April is Library Giving Month and the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation is raising funds to further support library programs, services and facilities. Check out your own public library branch and sign up for a free library card if you don’t already have one. Take home a beautiful bookmark celebrating the April month of giving and learn how you can access all that our libraries have to offer. Librarians are here to help.