Don’t take libraries for granted

More than a month has passed since the Altoona Area Public Library celebrated its 95th anniversary and launched its full reopening after two years of challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and, amid that medical crisis, having suffered extensive damage from a construction accident that resulted in interior flooding.

However, May 11, the day of the celebration, did not end “Anniversary Observance 95,” since that number will continue to be a source of jubilation and triumph for this great community resource until next May, when “95” gives way to “96.”

Whatever the number might be, going forward, it will proclaim the library’s importance, despite the challenges posed by this increasingly computer/online information world.

Meanwhile, for some people, May 11 provided the opportunity to look beyond the services within the library’s walls, in the process “stacking” those services against what else might be evolving or becoming increasingly prevalent — and possibly more of a nuisance — in the world beyond books and periodicals.

The local library, as well as others in Blair County and beyond, continue to maintain their importance because of the many people who still prefer to “wrap their hands and arms” around a physical book rather than enduring time and frustration trying to find exactly what they are looking for, tucked away in the myriad reaches of the computer-based universe.

The fact is that multiple millions of people still are not computer savvy, even if they own a computer.

Some muse — or lament — regularly that they don’t have a “computer expert” second-grader grandchild nearby to help them whenever they encounter a problem while trying to look up something, or perform some other function, on the worldwide web.

To many, especially young people, that fact might be humorous, but not to the people, especially senior citizens, who would shut off their computer in a moment if someone would offer them a new book to read or offer to give them a ride to Altoona Library to peruse the many shelves of books.

Earlier, this editorial referred to “services . . . possibly more of a nuisance,” and many seniors would include in their top five the digital coupon craze that oftentimes keeps them from reaping product savings that those who are able to navigate that particular coupon availability routinely enjoy.

There are senior citizens who liken the limitations they encounter due to their lack of — or limited — computer skills to discrimination against the elderly.

Many seniors avoid purchasing an item if they cannot enjoy the digital coupon benefit that others are receiving.

People who visit the Altoona Library do not encounter such perceived injustices. There are library employees on site to provide guidance and help as needed — excellent service.

The May 11 event was dubbed “Rediscover Your Library.” Even as this 95th Anniversary year is continuing, the library already is looking optimistically toward its century year.

The reason is simple: Even computer-savvy people will continue liking the enjoyment and relaxation that a real book offers, as well as the other wonderful services that the library offers.


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