EDITORIAL: Joplin Public Library is a treasure

Oct. 24—There's no question that public libraries across the nation are increasingly being scrutinized for the materials they offer and the events they host.

Just as a snapshot of current events:

—Voters in Pella, Iowa, will decide in November whether to give their City Council more say over what books the public library can and can't offer. If approved, the change would limit the library board's authority and give the City Council more control over library policies and decisions.

—The Alabama Public Library Service has voted to create a list of books that parents might consider inappropriate for children and teenagers. The list will be compiled from submissions from the public and posted to the library service website and distributed to libraries.

—A new law in Arkansas would have allowed criminal charges against librarians and booksellers for providing "harmful" materials to minors. The law was temporarily blocked from enforcement by a federal judge.

—Montana implemented a law that would put restrictions on drag shows and would ban drag reading events in public libraries. It, too, has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge.

It's a tough environment for public libraries. That's why we are so proud of the Joplin Public Library for staying committed to its mission of offering a variety of books and other materials, as well as events, programs and services to the community.

We all know the Joplin library is a great place to read and check out books. But there's more. Again, another snapshot:

—It recently planted two gardens full of native plants for pollinators.

—It partners with the Joplin School District during the summer to be a host site for free meals for children.

—For anyone wondering what to read next, it regularly publishes both book reviews and a list of new materials in every Saturday edition of The Joplin Globe.

—It has a makerspace and a brand-new Library of Things, where patrons can check out a variety of gadgets and gizmos.

—It hosts community groups who do everything from registering voters to offering COVID-19 vaccines.

—It's an award-winning library. It was recognized earlier this month by the Missouri Library Association with a Community Partnership Award and Show Me Youth Services Award, both for teen services librarian Beth Snow, a Meritorious Achievement Award for retired director Carolyn Trout and a $3,000 grant for systems administrator Justin Kelly.

We are so lucky to have the Joplin Public Library. It's a critical component of ensuring that the community is a vibrant, thriving and well rounded place to live.