By Lex Grattan
It is no secret that the past few years have been tough on libraries. The irony in that is that people enjoy seeing libraries open and are disheartened to see them close, but many do not utilize all that they have to offer if at all. Libraries are no longer romanticized and with a growing population that sees them as obsolete, librarians and library workers are fighting to keep their free access to knowledge alive. Libraries are also facing the challenge of remaining relevant in an online age, most have incorporated access to computers and wi-fi for free to their buildings and yet their door counts are still at record lows. Access to online reading and handheld instant information with smartphones has been a large reason why libraries are struggling to get readers in the door in a post-pandemic world. Getting people in the doors is not the only struggle facing these facilities, with a growing population that supports the banning of books librarians always have to be aware of what has been banned and what could be next. From January to August of 2022, the American Library Association cited 681 attempts to ban or restrict library resources in the United States targeting 1,651 different titles. Another struggle facing libraries is the disappearance of the middle class. Once seen as places made for the people and rooted in the hopes of the middle class, libraries have seen a decline that follows the all-but-extinct middle class. While libraries do serve those in poverty, many low-class families struggle to find the resources or time to get to the library. There is a movement to reshape libraries as places of not only knowledge but also congregation, calling on the incorporation of play areas, coffee shops, and art. Without adequate funding and people coming in the doors, this is simply a dream that many libraries are incapable of reaching. This all may sound scary, but the good news is that libraries and their workers are adaptable and committed to overcoming the hardships they face. Libraries will continue to provide free and essential services to all that walk through their doors. Check out your local library and encourage your friends to do the same.