Letters to the Editor

The digital divide

I would like to encourage every individual to consider the value that a new library would add to this community. A vote for the library bond on May 20 is a vote for an increasingly vibrant and progressive community.

It is a vote for one of the most basic of American values; that all Americans should have equal access to information. Libraries are the cornerstone of that access.

And contrary to the opinion of some that libraries are obsolete or a luxury, they have never been poised to play a more critical role in society as the nature of information becomes increasingly digital, creating what some call the "Digital Divide." This "divide" separates those who are able to utilize and benefit from the Internet and those who cannot. That is the critical issue. Internet access has become the integral link between individual and local community resources and global resources of information and knowledge.

The current library falls pathetically short of providing adequate terminals for a school district the size of Arlington, especially when considering current growth projections. Our population is already four times what it was when the existing library was built.

I know that many people never use the library. They typically say if they want a book they just go buy it. But the point is that the library is for exploring our world and stumbling on books and movies and music that we don't even know about until we find them. The computer terminals allow anyone to explore and access a catalogue that includes resources located in the entire Sno-Isle system. Access to the Internet enables one to research a subject, find an appropriate book and ultimately, to borrow it from any library in the country if it is not in the local system.

I was recently diagnosed with cancer and that is how I found so much information that has been invaluable to me. It is not a huge stretch to say that the access to information that a library provides has the potential to be life-saving.

In closing, I would like to suggest that an adequate community library puts some meat into the American promise of equal opportunity and that our troops have fought for this ideal many times in many places. Please support this American ideal in your own way by voting for this modest bond measure (at a cost of only $14 per $100,000 of assessed property value per year).

Let's all do our part to make America great and vote Yes on May 20.

Susan Bensman

Arlington

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