HTFL as Cornerstone

In our 76th year of operation, the Haverford Township Free Library has truly become the cornerstone of the community. Year-round, HTFL brings our people together. The public library is not just about borrowed books; it is about information. And the library has, by default, become a major destination point on the highway because it offers access to a number of important portals. Can you imagine in this digital day looking for a job, submitting a résumé, a college application, or conducting business on the road without a computer? On a daily basis, an estimated 1,000 customers step through our doors. In a world where people need to constantly acquire new skills, HTFL has become a lifelong learning center where that can happen.

HTFL believes in balance. As our HTFL website traffic count continues to grow and prosper, unique resources and valuable content will be the hallmark of this evolving cyber resource. While the idea of searching stacks of books for research may seem archaic to some, libraries still exist for that reason and are still necessary because not every question can be answered by a tech-tool. You can type any question you have into an internet search engine and 65,000 hits might be your result. At this point, the neophyte is stymied for the moment. There’s no need to fear, our librarian consultants are here! Your HTFL cadre of librarians help customers find answers by showing them how to use resources or how to narrow and refine their computer searches to get authoritative information. Books in other formats - such as audio books and large-print titles - are also more prominently featured at HTFL as times have changed and the demand for those products have increased. Diverse resource service happenings exemplified by the library programming event and downloading best selling digital titles 24/7 to play on your PC, MP3 player or PDA are also part of the evolving library terrain.

Like any business, library advocates need to recognize changing trends and be willing to flex with them. In making operational changes, the evolutionary library has gone from a mere place where people go to get books into a thriving community center – a place of learning, an entrepreneurial zone, of socializing, and of communicating.

The library is a barometer of the community it serves. Enter a community, visit its library and an insightful individual will be able to make an enlightened observation about the “state of the community” in question. The public library is always a prime target when it comes to its standing within the budgetary process. This is a matter of fact as severe library cutbacks and closures have been reported from Maine to Florida. Underlying this reality are two simple facts. First, libraries do not have a powerful vocal constituency. Unlike other essential service groups, the library sector does not usually have a union or benevolent organization representing its interests. There are no endowed “library lobbies” doling out campaign contributions to my knowledge. But far worse and insidious is that libraries tend to be viewed by all too many people in power as a luxury. In many of these minds, the public library is forever indelibly imaged as an antiquated ”Rockwellian” stereotype; these individuals need to press the “refresh” button in order to secure a reality-based understanding as to what a powerful and progressive public library is all about in the context of a thriving community looking to its future.

For many people, the library is the visible face of government. Most citizens have never been in their Town Hall, but many visit the library all the time. HTFL is a solid agency of the community that delivers a service efficiently, often with a smile and an offer of more help. Our staff is versed in customer service as it is part of our prime directive. We pride ourselves in being responsible stewards of the public trust. Monies allocated to us from the local, state, and philanthropic sectors are handled in a very responsible manner. If education and information are going to provide the means for America to get itself out of our economic, social, and political morass, the public library will be one major vehicle to assist the populace and the nation in the process. Take the public library out of the equation and you eradicate a major force. In short, libraries are not a luxury, but a lifeline.

Your insights, suggestions and questions are sought. E-mail me at

, telephone: 610.446.3082 or stop by and do say hello. Enhance and Enrich your life? Absolutely! @HTFL.