Free access to books supports education

News Break [An Arrowhead Column]: It is important for the Indian Valley Public Library to continue to offer diversity on its shelves. Books are a vital resource for information and free education.


I grew up being taught that reading is the most essential way to gain information and educate yourself on topics you do not know about.
Thus, I got my library card for the Indian Valley Public Library when I was still in elementary school, and I always loved going to the library to see what new books I could read.
Now, nearly seven years later, I am watching the institution I loved so dearly when I was younger be defunded.
The Telford Borough Council has asserted that this year’s library budget cut of $16,274 was done as a way to decrease community taxes.
However, some community members suggest that the budget cuts were passed because the council was reacting to a small amount of community anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment and the library’s decision to include LGBTQ+ literature on its shelves.
No matter the reason behind this action, I am glad to see that the Indian Valley Public Library is willing to be diverse in what they present for free community education.
Their willingness to present more stories about all types of people is something that I hope continues into the future.
When I was a kid, I never truly saw a character in the books I read that was completely like me, and the fact that the library is providing a positive representation for children to see themselves in is very commendable.
Books like these are more important than some people may think, and The Trevor Project’s recent mental health survey suggests this.
The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health reports that those who live in an accepting community show significantly lower rates of attempting suicide compared to those who do not.
Part of an accepting community for LGBTQ+ youth is the openness of its public institutions to recognize their identities.
One such example of an institution is a public library.
According to the Trevor Project, another statistic that supports this is that 89% of LGBTQ+ youth report that seeing LGBTQ+ representation in the media makes them feel good about their identities.
Books are part of this media that LGBTQ+ youth are exposed to on a daily basis. Stories like these would have been very beneficial to me as a younger child since they would have helped me to be accepting of others and recognize that it was okay to be different from the status quo.
This type of education would have greatly helped me as a child, and I know that it can do the same for any child that feels the same way I did when I was younger.
Good diversity education connects with people and allows them to apply this learned knowledge to their perspective on life.
Seeing diversity in how we educate the community is reassuring at a time when education is critical to how children and young adults grow as people.
Being inclusive of all identities and willing to educate others on those identities makes everyone’s lives better.
According to the Indian Valley Public Library’s mission, the library wants to enrich lives and minds by inspiring curiosity and advancing literacy.
Free education in the form of our public library is an integral part of the community that we should not take for granted, and including diversity in that conversation is an action that the Indian Valley Public Library should be commended for doing.