Olson: ‘Work together to ensure that our local libraries are supported financially’
I have always been a supporter of public libraries not only because of the important service that they provide, but also because of what they represent. Public libraries represent the ideals of our democracy by providing without favoritism, the same access to books and materials regardless of the patron's income level. Libraries promote literacy and the expansion of knowledge for all. Growing up, the library for me was always a source of exposure to mystery, history, and books about the geography and cultures around the globe. Now as a father, I get to watch my children benefit from our local library. I see my kids expand their horizons and explore new books and subjects thanks to our local library.
Local Public Libraries also fill other important roles in our community. During the pandemic, Crookston Public Schools reached out to the Crookston Public Library for two important items. The first item that the library helped with was to provide a place for students to study as the schools were limited in capacity at the time. The library gladly stepped in and allowed our students to use a section of the library for such purposes. The second was to help with internet connectivity during periods of hybrid and distance learning. During the period of hybrid/distance learning, the library stepped in and helped with WiFi hot spots for students to help supplement the hot spots provided by the school. The library has been an essential partner of Crookston Public Schools throughout this pandemic and has always been willing to work with us to meet the needs of kids.
What concerns me now is that our public libraries are underfunded, hindering their ability to provide local patrons with the resources needed. Local libraries have not seen an increase in funding from the MN legislature since 2008. I want to thank Senator Mark Johnson for authoring a bill known as SF 1131, that if passed, would help provide much needed additional funding to our local regional libraries.
My hope is that we can all work together to ensure that our local libraries are supported financially so that they can continue to provide these important services to our community. Our libraries are essential to our democracy, they provide us with access to many resources, and they support us even in our most challenging times. Now is the time for us to support our local library by advocating for increased state funding for local libraries.