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Why Libraries Matter

By Frank Menchaca

Libraries, it seems, are under attack everywhere. Schools are eliminating librarians. College libraries receive less than three cents of every dollar spent on higher education. Marketing guru Seth Godin— and a chorus of others—has questioned the relevance of libraries in particularly stinging terms.

But there’s good news too. Ninety-five percent of Americans believe that public libraries play an important role in helping people live more successful lives. Students who visit their college libraries even once a semester are much more likely to return to school the following semester than those who do not. According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, “the vast majority of readers aged 16-29 have read a print book in the last year.” And 60 percent of Americans under the age of 30 have used a library within the last 12 months.

The message is clear. Libraries—whether academic, municipal, or special purpose—are essential to the health, wealth, and education of the communities they serve. There’s no doubt libraries are challenged by funding cuts and bad press or that they need to beef up their marketing efforts, but the rumors of their death have been greatly exaggerated.

Announcing a new library community

Gale believes in libraries. Our founder, Frederick Gale Ruffner, was absolutely passionate about them. As busy as he was running a respected research and publishing house, he took time to check in. “I visit a library every day,” he said, as remembered by Dedria Bryfonski, former CEO of Gale Research, in Library Journal. “Perhaps I might miss a day once in a while, but the next day I might hit two or three libraries.” (By the way, Mr. Ruffner helped found the Friends of Libraries USA and also founded the Literary Landmarks Association, which encourages the dedication of historic literary sites.)

Our market research indicates libraries closely associate Gale with advocacy and support—with being close to the issues at hand. In this spirit, we’re proud to launch a new online community, My Library Story.

The My Library Story community is your site. Hosting and moderating this community is important to us, because we want to do everything in our power to help you succeed. But, first and foremost, it’s a place for you to connect with each other and with the masses of stakeholders and users who are responsible for the funding—and the future—of libraries.

We hope that the My Library Story community will help you and those who love libraries spread the word about all the good work you do. Given the lack of staff, time, and budget many libraries need to fund awareness campaigns, we’re convinced that this community can make your library advocacy job easier. And for every post submitted, Gale will donate $1 to an advertising fund that will be used to promote libraries through mainstream media during National Library Week 2015. We will also offer free resources to libraries to engage your communities, including web ads, a bookmark, and social media posts.

I encourage you to visit My Library Story and become an active member of the community. We value your contribution and so will your users.



Frank Menchaca

About the Author

Frank Menchaca began his career at Gale in 1994 and currently serves as the Senior Vice President for the Gale, National Geographic Learning and Professional groups of Cengage Learning.

In addition to being a publishing executive, Frank is an accomplished and published author and translator. He has written and published poetry, criticisms, reviews and video scripts. He won the Thomas Wolfe Awards for Poetry in 1982 and 1983.

Frank earned his M.A. in English literature, with honors, from Yale University, and a B.A. in English and Spanish literature, Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from New York University.


3 thoughts on “Why Libraries Matter

  1. Could you send out a link to the source from which you cited the following?

    “Students who visit their college libraries even once a semester are much more likely to return to school the following semester than those who do not. ”

    This would be helpful data for us to share.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Katie,

      Thanks for the comment! The statistic is from a study, Library Use and Undergraduate Student Outcomes: New Evidence for Students’ Retention and Academic Success, which was conducted at the University of Minnesota and published by The Johns Hopkins University Press in the April 2013 issue of portal: Libraries and the Academy. Read more:

      Harmony Faust
      Marketing Director, Public Libraries

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