Recently I had the opportunity to visit eight libraries in rural towns in Mississippi during the course of one week. These libraries ranged from a two-room facility smaller than some master bedrooms to a full-service, modern library that offered a full range of activities for the community. Here are 10 things that I learned about rural libraries:
1. Each small town library is unique.
2. Patrons are flocking to their local libraries to use the Internet.
3. Job seekers are using the library to find employment, build resumes and even learn job skills.
4. There are after-school issues and opportunities.
5. Libraries are becoming more involved in their communities.
6. Community rooms are being used by the community.
7. The personality of the librarian is important.
8. Elected officials and other funders do not have library cards.
9. Technology will have dramatic change on libraries.
10. Libraries are safe places.
Gone are the days when a person went to the local library to do nothing more than check out a book and return it or renew it two later. Small town libraries have become a provider of numerous services to their communities. Their future will be one of expanding those services even more. The communities that support those services will be more vibrant, educated and engaged.
My column in next week’s Mississippi Business Journal will discuss each of the above points.