THE IMPACT OF LIBRARIES IN THE SOCIETY
Libraries play a huge role in society. Their importance for literacy is undeniable, but in today’s world as digitalisation moves forward, their role is growing. In Finland, libraries are the largest provider of digital support to citizens, enabling a digital transition where no one is left behind. As digitalisation gains ground, the need for media literacy is increasing. Social media has brought a new way of communicating. It has improved and strengthened democracy by enabling a broad civil dialogue without gatekeepers.
However, it has also challenged media literacy. Fake news spreads and deliberate disinformation is disseminated. The ability of citizens to distinguish lies from the truth is tested globally. The best way to fight lies is the truth. Here libraries play a significant role. Knowledge is our best tool for guaranteeing factual civil dialogue. The Internet has made knowledge accessible for all, but does not help in processing it. Libraries can answer this challenge.
As digitalisation progresses, traditional reading is decreasing, especially among boys. The library can be a place where a child first becomes acquainted with the wonderful world of books and reading. The more a person reads as a child, the more likely he or she also reads as an adult. The libraries of the future should no longer be seen as places where we passively receive information, but as spaces of democracy, spaces that enable information, encounter and debates with civil society.
That is why it is worth investing in public libraries, they contribute to the well-being of citizens. They enable active citizenship and support a democratic free society. Libraries are for all of us and they are used by all social classes, thereby strengthening equality. In order for them to remain as such in a changing world, it is necessary to invest in them and boldly renew to meet the needs of today.