EDUCATION AND THE PUBLIC LIBRARY by Jon Walker
A vital part of the public library’s mission is ensuring support for lifelong learning among the individual members of our community. PCCLD’s education basis is important. This has never been clearer than now. In the past year, we further emphasized our commitment to help our local public schools via ConnectED, an initiative which better guarantees local K-12 students have convenient access to the resources of the public library (for more information on this important project, see www.pueblolibrary.org/connected). PCCLD’s role in this regard also extends to higher education. This is important. Studies show greater levels of formal education attainment correlate to positive outcomes for long-term economic and social success for individuals and the broader prosperity of communities.
College takes lots of effort to complete and can be expensive. There are many benefits to college education justifying both of these. College graduates earn more money on average during their working lives than people with high school diplomas. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that people with bachelor’s degrees earn about one million dollars more over the course of their individual careers than do those whose formal education stops with high school. Individuals with more advanced college degrees beyond baccalaureate enjoy even better wage outcomes. Attending college should be viewed as an investment that pays off later in life.
The economic benefit is one good reason to earn a college degree. There are others. College graduates experience significantly lower rates of unemployment and poverty than high school graduates, and they are generally healthier, boast increased awareness of social issues, realize greater success in switching jobs and relocating based on lifestyle preferences, and have more time for recreational activities and hobbies. College graduates also generally realize broader knowledge of world history, geography, and culture plus improvement in critical thinking skills relevant and useful throughout a lifetime.
Research shows overall education levels parallel a community’s welfare. The upside includes greater tax receipts for the common good, more participation in important public policy matters, and higher levels of employment with better paying jobs. College-educated parents are more likely to raise children who obtain a college degree as well. Research indicates college graduates enjoy healthier lifestyles and the children of college graduates often receive a better start in life as they are aware from an early age about the importance of good nutrition and exercise. This in turn improves the general quality of life and life expectancy rates for college graduates and their entire families.
PCCLD seeks to contribute to local higher education efforts. Our librarians are prepared to assist in numerous ways, whether it is helping individuals select just the right college or major field of study, looking for college financial aid, or plain old studying and preparing for course projects and exams. We also provide special research resources to assist with all of this and more. We know this makes a positive difference both for individuals and for society at large.
In order to further improve upon this, PCCLD recently created formal relationships both with Colorado State University-Pueblo and Pueblo Community College in order to better assist their respective campuses with access to the public library. Now you will see in the academic libraries on both campuses PCCLD services available to complement the learning experiences there. We call these projects Library @ the U and Library @ PCC, respectively.
Our community is a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family. PCCLD’s mission is more fully accomplished through its support for our local K-12 schools, colleges, and universities.
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