In St. Paul, we’ve got the chance for daring funding in our future via our public libraries. With continued challenges and uncertainty, we want trusted assets, folks, and areas to assist, join and assist us transfer ahead.
Based on a latest examine from the Saint Paul Metropolis Council Audit Committee, Saint Paul Public Library is probably the most trusted, beloved public establishment in our metropolis. Once we put money into our Library, we put money into prospects. We put money into one another.
Saint Paul Public Library has proposed a imaginative and prescient and course for its services that’s dynamic, responsive and accessible to at present’s library customers and to our entire neighborhood. Transformative investments within the Hayden Heights, Riverview, and Hamline Halfway libraries will say, “We see you. We welcome you” to residents of all talents, all ages, all socio-economic and training backgrounds, all races and ethnicities, all identities, all pursuits, and all circumstances. Extra systemwide investments will tackle the necessity for technology-rich areas in addition to areas for kids and their adults to play and study collectively.
Saint Paul Public Library has led exceptional neighborhood engagement processes throughout our metropolis and has engaged a whole lot of residents in imagining libraries that can serve us all for many years to come back. The Associates commends their course of. And, we unequivocally assist Saint Paul Public Library’s proposed imaginative and prescient for systemwide investments that honor our historical past and can make all our libraries extra welcoming, extra accessible, and extra ready to fulfill no matter problem comes subsequent.
We imagine within the Library. The Associates of the Saint Paul Public Library has an extended and profitable historical past of advocacy and funding grounded within the fundamental precept that Libraries Are Important. We imagine that public libraries are important to wholesome neighborhoods, to thriving households, to aspiring people, and to our sense of id and delight as residents of Saint Paul.
In case you, like me, are somebody whose imaginative and prescient of a public library is grounded in recollections of childhood journeys to take a look at books or attend storytimes, I invite – I implore – you to go to a Saint Paul library department. You’ll discover folks studying. You’ll additionally discover youngsters singing, teenagers gaming, college students stitching, musicians recording, neighbors laughing, adults studying, and all the time … library employees serving to.
As we speak’s library affords books – and a lot extra, all in response to neighborhood wants. Even in the course of the peak of the pandemic, our Library has constantly proven up for us. In 2021:
- Library employees, in partnership with Ramsey County Workforce Options, mobilized 2,700 profession assist periods for displaced and unemployed staff.
- Saint Paul Public Library gave away greater than 18,000 books to youngsters and households and served 3,500 contributors in summer time outside storytimes.
- Group specialists working with the Somali, Latinx, Karen, Hmong, and African American communities interacted with 14,000 residents in 5 languages.
- The library hosted 48,000 Wi-Fi periods to serve people of all ages who’ve restricted or no digital entry.
- The library gave away 792 TechPaks (which embody a pc, web hotspot, and digital coaching) to Saint Paul households.
Ebooks and digital downloads of supplies comprised an more and more essential a part of the two.2 million gadgets that had been circulated.
And now, with library hours and employees restored to pre-pandemic ranges, our Homework Facilities and Studying Collectively applications are stuffed with college students catching up on studying abilities and educational efficiency after two years of deeply disrupted instructional experiences. Kids and households are gathering for in-person storytimes. Neighbors and coworkers are coming collectively for neighborhood conferences, workshops, courses, ebook golf equipment, trainings, and extra. Citywide celebrations like Juneteenth and Northern Spark have occasions and houses in our libraries. And, in just some weeks, Summer time Spark, the library’s citywide summer time studying program, kicks off with one other 12 months of ebook giveaways, artist-led encounters, and extra.
Even in probably the most “regular” of occasions, investing within the public library is sensible. These usually are not regular occasions. Within the final three years, the financial, instructional, employment, well being, public security, digital entry, and social disparities in our neighborhood have been laid naked. For each instance of inequality and inequity that has been uncovered in our metropolis because the begin of the pandemic, the library has been anticipated to give you a response and resolution. And, most of the time, it has – to all our profit.
The Saint Paul Public Library system requires funding equal to what it’s being requested to do in, for, and with our neighborhood at present. And investing in transformative areas that can serve us all is step one.
Why now? As a result of we can not afford to attend. We deserve areas that welcome all of us with companies, assets, expertise, and data that serve us far past constructing partitions.
The Associates’ imaginative and prescient is for a dynamic library on the coronary heart of each neighborhood. Our group has a 75-year historical past because the Library’s (and due to this fact the Metropolis’s) philanthropic associate. We all know there’s a position for The Associates in realizing the Library’s transformative imaginative and prescient; we’re wrapping up our personal capital marketing campaign feasibility and neighborhood engagement course of to know how The Associates can financially contribute to this effort. And, in line with our decades-long public-private partnership, we will even proceed to advocate to native and statewide leaders for extra public funding.
Once we construct and replace buildings, we achieve this way more than pay for bricks and mortar. We put money into folks and in neighborhoods. We put money into all our futures.
Beth Burns is president of The Associates of the Saint Paul Public Library.