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Libraries are more important than ever

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Libraries promote a literate society and lifelong learning.

San Diego Library programs help counter national trends indicating declines in literacy. A recent National Endowment for the Arts report found an alarming drop in reading among Americans. The study warned that lower literacy and reading comprehension rates correlate to lower academic achievement, fewer job skills, and less opportunity for personal advancement. Less-skilled readers also are less likely to vote or actively engage in social and civic activities. The San Diego Public Library adult literacy program received the American Library Association’s 2006 Advancement of Literacy Award and was a U.S. Department of Education model program.

Libraries play a vital role in early childhood development.

New research indicates 85 percent of brain architecture is formed by age three to four. A Federal Reserve Bank report noted extraordinary returns on public investments in early childhood development, including better working public schools, more educated workers, and less crime. With a myriad of special programs – including training in nutrition for children and parenting skills for adults – San Diego’s libraries effectively promote adult, family, and juvenile literacy and life skills. An example is our very successful La Jolla Library Summer Youth Reading program. Our Youth Services Librarian, Laurie Bailey, writes about this in her column.

Libraries spur economic development and community revitalization.

Several studies have revealed the powerful economic impact of library investment.

These studies have indicated that the return on taxpayer and private philanthropic investment in public libraries averages between 6% and 12% or higher.

Libraries are much more than books.

Increasingly, San Diegans meet at the library to hear great music, appreciate art work and discuss critical issues. A study by the San Diego Foundation found attending library events is San Diegans second most popular cultural destination – ahead of museums, live concerts and theater performances. We are San Diego’s largest provider of cultural programming with nearly 5,000 cultural and educational events each year. The La Jolla Library provides programming for all ages, in numerous areas such as author events, classical music, (La Jolla Music Society Summerfest) art shows, computer skills, science for kids, yoga, poetry and much more!

There is much work to be done to preserve and grow this valuable community resource. We need your help. Please contact me if you can give your time, treasure or talent to the La Jolla Library. You can reach me at (858) 212-3311.

Your Friend, ~Doug Dawson