A library is like a literary Shangri-la to a book lover. The lobby teems with children skirting around their parents’ feet eagerly waiting to check out their favorite books. Tweens dive into comfy chairs to lose themselves in the latest YA novel. High school students scratch their pencils on piles of homework in the quiet section as aspiring writers tap away on laptops. Elderly patrons get help with their taxes or are shown how to use the computers. And librarians pass among them, checking on this tender and diverse community.

What would America be without its public libraries? Contrary to popular belief, more people use their local library than ever before, and yet libraries are endangered by drastic budget cuts, closure, privatization and the skyrocketing cost of technology. In a recent survey by the American Library Association, 22 states have reported reduced hours at their public libraries. To raise public awareness and save this vital American institution, Dawn Logsdon and Lucie Faulknor are working on a documentary about our public libraries. But they need your help.

Logsdon and Faulknor

Director Dawn Logsdon and Producer Lucie Faulknor
at a presentation at the San Francisco Public Library.

Logsdon and Faulknor’s film Free For All: Inside the Public Library shares “the history, spirit, and challenges of the American Public Library” in hopes that it will rally Americans to save our libraries. It follows a “day in the life” of libraries across the nation and is the first major documentary on the public library.

Libraries play a huge role in a community’s daily life because they are spaces without conflict and do not discriminate. They are a shining model of democracy in action. During the Ferguson protests the local library provided free classes for students. After Hurricane Sandy, libraries became lifelines in affected areas of New York and New Jersey. Anyone can use these resources—all it takes is a library card. According to a 2013 study by Kathy Rosa of the American Library Association, 95 percent of Americans ages 16 and older agree that “the materials and resources available at public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed.”

This is exactly why Logsdon and Faulknor have teamed up to create the documentary—but they cannot do this project alone. Their KickStarter campaign runs until Oct. 27 to make it possible to complete the film. They need help to spark a national dialog to save this institution, which has been a cornerstone of our democracy for 150 years.