Libraries Across Country Meet Community Needs

Knowing the Gaps and Filling Them

Deb Fallows and husband Jim have spent the last couple of years touring communities large and small to learn what makes communities grow.* Deb recently revealed on NPR’s Marketplace that her biggest surprise has been how communities across the country are supporting their public libraries.

“I think one of the biggest surprises for me is how one of the oldest institutions in the country has had a huge and important comeback, and that’s public libraries. They know what’s going on in town so they know what the needs are. They know what the gaps are. They know what the shortfalls are. It’s been astonishing to me how they have — place by place — stepped up and filled in.

“Sometimes they have the support. Sometimes they do it by philanthropy and curiously, in a number of these towns, even though these towns are suffering terribly and have had huge cutbacks in funding, people are voting bond issues to keep their libraries going so somehow the word is getting out there that ‘we love our library, we need our library and we’re going to support it even if we can’t support anything else.”

*The American Futures project is a collaboration between Marketplace and The Atlantic. The critical role of libraries in community growth is highlighted in the following reports:

A Library Writes its Own Story

An Innovative Library in Oregon

A Library of Good Ideas