The Palm Harbor Library has been recognized in our community for being the cornerstone of a thriving Palm Harbor, where patrons enrich their lives by utilizing the library’s many resources. From literacy tutoring, job assistance, Medicare planning, art exhibits, children’s programs, musical events, a gaming center — and so much more — our community has come to see us as a definite educational and cultural center.

But why is this mission important to us? Why do we strive to serve the community in the best, healthiest, and most innovative way possible?

To answer these questions, we must go back to the inception of not only the Palm Harbor Library, but the earliest libraries of the world. Many historians believe ancient book collections thrust humans from prehistoric times to the recording of human history. Information compiled on clay tablets began the recording of knowledge, and gave birth to ancient scribes — the earliest librarians. Commercial transactions, medical discoveries, and government laws were now immortalized as written words and passed down from generation to generation, building more complex societies and better education. The wonders of all ages are built on the connection of written words, community partnership, continued learning, and access to imagination and ideas.

Now 30 years into the digital revolution, one may think that such outdated forms of record keeping are no longer valuable, and that in turbulent modern times not even a library can save us from our challenges. The truth is libraries, the brick and mortar establishments, continue to stand as pillars of enlightenment and cultural morals. They are much more than record keeping, you see. They are the symbol of safe space, continual growth, and the flourishing of human interaction. We would argue that now more than ever libraries are essential to communities, which despite technological advancements still yearn for the communal bonds that serve them, educate them, and enrich them on a social level.

The Palm Harbor Library takes this mission and purpose seriously. It understands the imperative role of fulfilling social needs. The Palm Harbor community has a great history of partnership and fellowship after all. Palm Harbor Library Director Gene Coppola has witnessed this kinship by fondly remembering his own connection with Palm Harbor.

“In the 20 years I have been associated with the Palm Harbor community, I have seen progressive communal change, all for the good,” he explains. “In an unincorporated area of nearly 59,000 people, partners such as the chamber of commerce, CSA Palm Harbor, the Palm Harbor Historical Museum, FEAST, religious institutions and the downtown merchants have all brought the community forward in so many wonderful and lasting ways. I am just gratified that Palm Harbor Library’s role at the community table has also helped to improve the quality of life for all of its residents.”

The importance of libraries is essential especially during times of injustice and intolerance, and they serve as reminders of human compassion, the value of replacing blindness and fear with truth and mind cultivation. We continue to upkeep these values by providing free education and resources. Socioeconomic status remains at the door once you step into the sacred halls of libraries, recognizing everyone’s human worth. Libraries boost the community’s economy with their employment assistance, training, and financial guidance.

Libraries also work with medical and fitness providers so that patrons can make informed health decisions and strive for better self-care.

With free access to the internet and historical records, libraries share the truth and ways for members to find their own answers to burning questions. From children’s story time to English tutoring, unemployed patrons searching for assistance, and teenagers needing a comfortable gaming spot, the Palm Harbor Library continues to serve and provide creative and socioeconomic connections to build the partnership Palm Harbor still values and conserves.

After all, from one of the earliest libraries in Alexandria, Egypt, to our little corner of the world, it is a universal belief that knowledge and imagination are both powerful tools that can — and will — change the world.

Tamara Rokicki is marketing coordinator for Palm Harbor Library.