Editorial

This month is National Library Month, set aside to celebrate the value of public libraries in our communities. If you haven’t been to the library recently, you need to check it out.

The libraries of today are much different than the stereotypical library of the past. First of all, there’s no “shushing;” the Cullman County Library is loud . . . and proud of its programing. Long the center of community, the library of today is no different. You can enjoy a yoga class, sit the little ones down for story time, learn to knit or browse the internet. Considering the usefulness and entertainment factor of a library, it’s no wonder Americans visited libraries more than movies or live sporting events last year.

Libraries are communal resources, where individuals can participate in group activities or choose to tuck themselves away with a good book or browse the internet.

Books and reading, of course, remain central to libraries. Study after study shows the benefits of reading. From birth to death, reading is an activity that enhances quality of life. Reading to children under 5 boosts their brain development, and studies show that children who engage in independent reading score higher on achievement tests in all subject areas. That’s right: reading books will make kids better in math, science and all other subjects. And as we age, the benefits of reading include better sleep, less stress, better memory and delaying the onset of dementia or Alzheimers.

Books also expose us to worlds outside our own, adventures we can take in our minds, and people from all walks of life.

The Friends of the Public Libraries of Cullman County is working hard to spread the word about what is happening at the Cullman County Library and provide financial support for the programs. For the population the library serves (82,000 people) it has one of the lowest annual budgets ($604,335) and square footage (15,297 at the main branch) of area library systems. The Hoover Public Library system, by way of comparison, serves 84,848 people and has an annual budget of $7,364,181 and 85,000 square feet of space.

We applaud the hard work of our librarians and library staff and the volunteers who give their time and effort to provide quality programming and events. Check out what’s happening at our area libraries. And think about writing a check to the Friends of the Public Libraries of Cullman County.

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