Thursday, November 27, 2014

This is Why Libraries Matter: Ferguson @ NationSwell

This is Why Libraries Matter: Ferguson
NationSwell: 11.25.2014 by Lorraine Chow

As schools are closed due to safety concerns, a stalwart in the community bravely holds a city together.

If you’re looking to help out in Ferguson, Mo., here’s a simple but important thing you can do: donate to their local library.

As a safety precaution for students, schools in the surrounding area of the St. Louis suburb closed after the grand jury reached a decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. However, as tensions flare, the Ferguson Municipal Library has decided to keep their doors open.

Along with providing space for teachers to teach, it’s also offering water, computer access and lunch to visitors. The library also acts as welcome relief for parents who needed a safe place to bring their kids while they are at work. (A coalition of 11 churches in north St. Louis County are also open for the community, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports.) As we previously reported, the Ferguson library first stepped up in August after protests over the slain teen forced local schools to shutter their doors.

The cost of closing schools is far greater than students missing out on a few lessons. Quartz’s ideas editor S. Mitra Kalita writes that cancelling school is akin to “[closing] the door on the future.” A high school senior tells the Chicago Tribune that the August cancellations negatively impacted her college applications: “It’s been hard to keep up with band, tennis and National Honor Society meeting, when they were all getting scraped.” Even worse: With the poverty rate in Ferguson almost double Missouri’s average and more than 60 percent of students on free or reduced lunch plans, with the school grounds closed, many kids won’t get proper nutrition if they are not in school.

This is why libraries matter. They aren’t just places where you can occasionally check out a book. For Ferguson, it provides a safe haven for a community in turmoil.  READ MORE !

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