Your library is a valuable asset to your community, and it’s an important partner in the movement to Transform Rockford. It’s a place for learning, it’s a place for exploring, and it’s a place for engaging with your world. No matter if you’re young, you’re old, or somewhere in between, the library has something for you.

Today, we’re reflecting on just a few of the many reasons we love our libraries!

Reading Has the Power to Transform.

Study after study show that children who read are more likely to succeed in life. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, reading at home boosts a child’s ability to recognize letters, count to 20 and write their names. When parents and family members read to their children, they’re setting up their young students for better test scores, higher educational achievement and a lifelong passion for learning.

Taking your children to the library on a regular basis exposes them to numerous learning opportunities – not just in the books they read but in the programming they experience. Last year, Rockford Public Library welcomed some 51,976 visits to story time, classes and other activities. Other libraries in the area – including the Cherry Valley Library; North Suburban Library in Loves Park and Roscoe; the Talcott Library in Rockton; and the Ida Library in Belvidere – welcomed thousands more families for activities ranging from craft time to stories with librarians.

Sharing Books is Cheaper than Buying Them

Visit the library and you might notice a curious statistic at the bottom of your receipt: the amount of money you’ve saved by visiting the local library. Hint: Borrowing is saving you (and your neighbors) money.

Last year, patrons at Rockford Public Library’s five branches borrowed more than 1.045 million items, including 127,000 e-books available on Kindles and other devices. Assigning just a modest $15 per item (and that’s way less than the library paid for it), that’s more than $20 million worth of material you could have bought on your own. Instead, your library has invested in those materials for you and your neighbors to share.

Of course, the library carries far more than just books. You’ll also find a large collection of audiobooks (CDs of talented actors reading your favorite books), movies, music CDs, magazines and numerous electronic copies available online and through smartphone apps.

Can’t find what you’re looking for at your local library? Not to worry. As one part of a statewide network of libraries, your local branch can locate, and borrow, materials from public and academic institutions all over Illinois.

And what does it cost you, the taxpayer, to keep the library going? Dividing the Rockford library’s budget by Census-estimated households, you’re paying just $114 each year.

You Can Always Learn Something New

Last year, Rockford public libraries welcomed nearly 663,000 visits from people who did much more than read books.

Some came to study nearly 1,000 different job-related courses through a new universal class skills tool. Dropouts earned their diplomas. Families enjoyed a performance or lecture at the library’s Nordlof Center, a 300-seat theater with a black box studio and classrooms.

The local history room, which contains thousands of regional historical manuscripts and maps, welcomed curious researchers digging up more about the history of their home, the history of their community, and the history of their family.

Inside the Hart Interim Library in downtown Rockford, a makerspace welcomed creative minds who built their skills with tools like 3-D printers, virtual reality welding machines, vinyl cutters, laser cutters, video green screens, embroidery machines and sewing machines, among many other tools. One person actually refined their skills enough in the maker lab to begin a new career. New tools are added frequently.

So what are you waiting for? Isn’t it time you discovered what’s inside your local library?