The first in a series of articles spotlighting the relevance of public libraries in today's digital world.

Libraries are repositories of books, music,  films, and documents - and a place of safety and pleasure that welcomes us unconditionally.  
Though libraries today are sometimes seen as outmoded institutions, with search engines and social media taking over some of the libraries’ essential tasks, the truth is that libraries can still be  an important resource for everyone.
In other words, let’s not underestimate the power of a library card.
It is no secret that libraries face budget cuts and fight the growing perception that technology has rendered them less necessary.  But our need for shared community-centered spaces to find information and connect with others is unlikely to change any time soon.
“If we do not have libraries, if we lose the notion of free access to most information, the world of the haves and the have-nots will grow further and further apart.  Our economy will suffer, and our democracy will be put at unnecessary risk,” stated John Palfrey, the former head of the Harvard Law Library in a Washington Post article several years ago.
To survive in the digital age and stay relevant, public libraries have adapted and embraced both the physical and virtual.  And a sense of community has renewed importance.
Area libraries continue to offer “traditional” services and along with updated physical collections of books, CDs and DVDs, the libraries can now provide users with remote access to the Internet and e-books.
The libraries are also being used as a cultural and social space where people can come together to take part in workshops, author talks, film screenings, and special events.
The libraries in Butler County are:  Andover Public Library, Augusta Public Library, Douglass Public Library, El Dorado’s Bradford Memorial Library, Leon Public Library, Potwin Public Library, Towanda Public Library, Rose Hill Public Library, and the Whitewater Memorial Library.  
These libraries vary in size and facilities.  Some staffs are larger than others and some may find funding easier than others, but all of them are still relevant and important to their communities.
Andrew Carnegie, who paid to construct almost 2,000 library buildings in the nation between 1886 and 1919, stated, “A library outranks any other thing a community can do to benefit its people.”
Public libraries’ mission remains the same - to provide free access to information to all people.  The way we access information has changed, but they still need the information.
Librarians are the original, and still the best, search engines.

Upcoming articles will include information on all of the libraries in Butler County.