Save Our Libraries!

Note: The following is a "soapbox" rant about the importance of libraries to society. If you are not interested, you don't have to read on... but if you love libraries too, I encourage you to do so. :O)
New York Public Library (source)
     Over the past year, our municipality, just like so many others, cut funding from the library system. This didn't make sense to me for one reason in particular: we live in Alaska. The winter is seven months long. It's dark. It's cold. People spend a lot of time in doors; and Lord knows it's better to have citizens who spend time indoors reading books, than citizens who spend all their time indoors playing video games... So, why would they cut funding from the library?!

     So, our library, which already had strange hours from a previous budget cut, now only opens five days a week (and during odd hours at that), and has only two thirds of the amount of staff they used to have. Because there are fewer staff, the librarians are grouchy. They were always a little intimidating to me, but now, they are grouchier than they used to be. My guess is it's because they are overworked, but I could be wrong (probably not, though).

     Here's an example of their short temperateness. I was just there this evening, and half an hour before closing time, one of them literally walked over to the light switch and started to turn them on and off. At first, I thought maybe we were experiencing a power outage. Then, the flickering went on for a couple of minutes, and my eyes finally fell upon the stern faced librarian, glaring at the tax payers, willing them--willing me--to vacate the premises. Although she said nothing, I could practically hear her screaming at us to get out so she could go home.

     Although these things about the local library annoy me, the thing is, I still love it. It's a government funded facility full of free stuff! They have books. Don't like books? They have movies! Don't like movies? They have music! They have everything a broke monetarily conscientious member of society would want. I mean, seriously, who doesn't like getting things for free? There isn't a single human being on earth who doesn't. If you don't, check if you have a bellybutton (because you are probably an alien).

     Here's my point. The budget cut tale isn't confined to my state alone. In fact, many other places are too taking budget cuts, and the library systems are often the first to suffer the blows. This cannot happen! Libraries were a place of my childhood. There are four places I remember going to frequently before the age of five: preschool, church, the zoo, and the library. I know I am not alone in treasuring childhood memories set in cavernous, book filled spaces. Don't let these memories be robbed from future generations.

     Also, "digital libraries" can never replace the charm of a brick and mortar library. Although physical libraries may seem outdated, and perhaps archaic, the printed word should never be completely absent from its place in society. There is something magical about holding a musty book in your hands, and smelling the aged paper as you turn the pages. Let's not deny it. Having a real book in hand is a totally different experience than reading from a cold, mechanized e-reader or tablet...

    It's kind of like when Steinbeck talks about men who drive tractors (soulless creatures), as opposed to men who work the land via beast of burden, or other natural modes (still quite full of soul, and well connected with nature)--I feel that books play a major part in making humanity what it is today.

     So, despite the grouchy librarians, and off hours, I still adore my local library--and wouldn't want future generations to miss out on such an important establishment in society. My conclusion? Forget saving the pandas or the whales. Save your local library instead.

4 comments:

  1. Amen Sister! Although, I think pandas and whales are important too. School budget cuts don't make sense either.

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    1. I agree. I thought education was too fundamental a thing to cut... but I guess not. And, the arts are always the first to get cut, which makes me feel bad. I mean, why can't we cut PE instead? (It's not like we had fun in PE...)

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  2. I love the digital world and I like the idea of digital libraries but I like having an actual book in my hands more than a tablet or my iPod. Libraries aren't really for me but then again, I agree with you.

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    1. Yeah. There's nothing like a real book. Although, if digital libraries were put in place to supplement the "old fashioned" ones, I would be just fine and dandy.

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