Libraries remain cornerstones of culture and level the playing field for learning in an era where many people go online at home to read information, download e-books and stream movies.

That was the message from officials who gathered at the Dickson County Public Library last Thursday to celebrate a grant award from the state. They noted that many county residents don’t have fixed-line internet at home or unlimited data plans on phones and tablets, so the library computers meet an important need.

Even among residents with their own internet service, many prefer the library’s free access to books and DVDs over the offerings from tech giants such as Amazon, the officials said.

Further, libraries provide a space where people can get together for activities such as children’s storytime and board games.

“Libraries are still relevant,” said Jeff Martin, chairman of the Dickson library’s Board of Trustees. “They’re still important to the makeup of a community.”

He added, speaking of Dickson in particular: “The community really responds to the children’s programming. We really try to put a focus on that.”

Secretary of State Tre Hargett was on hand Thursday to present local officials with the grant of $1,305, which will go toward public-access computers.

At libraries, Hargett said, people can expand their horizons regardless of family income and zip code.

“The library, you can come in and unleash your potential,” he said.

The Dickson library remains as popular as ever in the digital age, Library Director Tamara Hammer said. She said that in her 15 years with the library, a period largely coinciding with the tech boom, attendance has held steady and even risen at times.

“We’ve actually picked up” during portions of that span, she said, adding that the Dickson library gets thousands of visits every month.

The new library is expected to open in mid- to late-December not far from the existing facility. The new library will be in the former Food Lion at 303 Henslee Dr.

“It’s moving along well, and we’re looking forward to getting into the new space,” Martin said. “The benefit of the new space is really its open design. We had a blank slate to work with.”

Said Hammer: “This is a wonderful opportunity, a new tool for people to use.”

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