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Anchorage Public Library Needs You

A message from the Anchorage Library Foundation, October 5, 2018

To Restore Civil Society, Start With the Library. This crucial institution is being neglected just when we need it the most.” – Eric Klinenberg, The New York Times, September 8, 2018

The New York Times recently published an op-ed piece that speaks to the urgent dilemma facing libraries today. While some still debate whether libraries are obsolete, those of us who love libraries know that they are busier and more essential than ever, but funding is not keeping up.

According Klinenberg, an American sociologist and a scholar of urban studies, “The real problem that libraries face is that so many people are using them, and for such a wide variety of purposes, that library systems and their employees are overwhelmed.”

We know this story all too well in Anchorage. Despite increases in usage, our Library has been cut year-after-year and been forced to reduce hours, operate on a skeleton crew of staff, and explore branch closures. Our Library needs a budget increase of $3M a year to be even average among peer libraries, and yet municipal funding remains stagnant.

As Library Champions, we understand the critical role that public libraries play in our civic infrastructure and know that stronger libraries are just what our community needs in this time of political and social gridlock.

“The openness and diversity that flourish in neighborhood libraries were once a hallmark of urban culture. But that has changed. Though American cities are growing more ethnically, racially and culturally diverse, they too often remain divided and unequal.”

Anchorage is a diverse and culturally vibrant city, and yet we are often segregated in our schools, workplaces and neighborhoods. Our libraries are one of the few places in our community that are neutral grounds for everyone, where we can meet people from different backgrounds, feel connected to our larger community, and build understanding with our neighbors.

“Libraries are the kinds of places where the public, private and philanthropic sectors can work together to reach for something higher than the bottom line.”

When so much is broken in government and society today, libraries are getting it right. 70% of US voters have visited a library in the last year, and here in Anchorage, a recent survey found that 86% of library patrons (and 70% of non-users) believe that APL provides good value for the tax dollars invested. How many other institutions or agencies have that kind of approval rating?

If you think the city should invest more in the Library, not less, we need your help today. Working in conjunction with libraries across the country through Every Library’s One Million Americans for Libraries campaign, the Anchorage Library Foundation is committed to shining a light on this attack on our libraries.

Over the next few years, the Library Foundation and the Library Advisory Board will work with elected officials and community leaders to figure out how our city can sustainable fund and support the level of library service our community needs and deserves. You can help amplify our message by:

By working together and standing up for our library, we can begin to restore civil society in our city and build an educated, thoughtful and connected community.

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