Andrea Berstler Delivers Comments on Public Libraries in the 21st Century at Ribbon Cutting

The mission of Wicomico Public Libraries is to support learning, build communities and enrich lives.  As a 21st Century Library, we do this by providing education support and opportunities, engaging in workforce development and by offering cultural and life enrichment programs for the community.  Our three locations (Downtown Salisbury, Pittsville and Centre Mall), our Bookmobile and our online ‘digital branch’ mean that the library is never far away. 

Supporting learning is and will always be, the foundational activity of a library.  In addition to loaning books, we provide quality information, help children develop literacy skills that will allow them to be lifelong learners, and partner with other educational organizations such as WorWic Community College to provide formal and informal adult education.  Libraries offer STEM programs and make these accessible to those in the community who may not otherwise discover them.  Students can build and program a computer, join a robotics team, or learn how to code all by attending free library classes.

Libraries have always been a place of cultural and history.  Beyond the resources of the Maryland Room, we provide programs that bring music, art and science into the library.  We host book groups and author talks, create community programs such as the Salisbury Book Fest, and are the gateway for discovering what the world has to offer.

Workforce development is the area that most people do not readily associate with libraries, but it is a foundational piece of our function.  The Job Search Center provides resources and trained personnel for those seeking new or better employment.  Workshops and trainings offer opportunities to fine tune a resume, sharpen interview skills, or learn about career training in the area.  Project READ provides one-on-one free tutoring for adults who struggle with literacy; whether it is reading, using a computer, handling finances or understanding health information.  By being able to take in and use information, we allow individuals to improve not only their current situation but the possibilities for their future.

By expanding our hours at the Centre Branch, we now offer library services 7 days a week at two locations.  When coupled with our digital offerings which include free access to eBooks, digital audiobooks, movies, music and magazines in multiple formats, the library is truly a 24/7 organization. Libraries are no longer dusty buildings, operating in hushed tones, with librarians sitting behind desks waiting for the next question.  They are vibrant, active places full of discovery and growth; available every day, influencing people in every area of their lives.

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