Stray Signals

Exposing Amateur Radio to the Public A Case for the Public Library

The face of Amateur Radio is changing. Keeping pace at warp speed with our hobby means keeping up with the times. And as Bob Dylan wrote, “the times they are a-changin”. One thing that hasn’t changed is the public’s perception of amateur radio. With the advent of the internet and cell phones, are ham radio operators simply a relic of the past? Are hams keeping pace with the changing technologies and are we capturing the changing demographics of our culture?

Ham radio operators ask why more women and young adults are not in our hobby? A better question might be how do we get more women and young adults into our hobby? The answer is pretty simple and can be summarized in one word: “exposure”. Very few people even have a perception of what ham radio operators do, let alone have never seen one in operation.

This is where the public library comes in.

According to a recent Gallup Survey (ECONOMY

JANUARY 24, 2020) visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far. The average is 10.5 trips to the library U.S. adults report taking in 2019 exceeds their participation in eight other common leisure activities. Americans attend live music or theatrical events and visit national or historic parks roughly four times a year on average and visit museums and gambling casinos 2.5 times annually. Trips to amusement or theme parks (1.5) and zoos (.9) are the least common activities among this list. These data were collected in a Dec. 2-15, 2019 Gallup poll.

Despite the proliferation of digital-based activities over the past two decades — including digital books, podcasts, streaming entertainment services and advanced gaming — libraries have endured as a place Americans visit nearly monthly on average. Whether because they offer services like free Wi-Fi, movie rentals, or activities for children, libraries are most utilized by young adults, women and residents of low-income households

I am fortunate to live in the progressive community of Northbrook, Illinois where our Northbrook Public Library has been awarded the highest 5-Stars rating by the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service for delivering a strong return on investment to the community. What does this mean? In a one-year time span, library patrons visited our library 13 times, connected to Wi Fi 37 times, checked out items 25 times

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