The Thing About Public Libraries

Josh

This may sound weird, especially for people who know me or read TTAF with any frequency, but I had never really taken advantage of my local library until just a couple of weeks ago when we got a card for my son. As much as I love to read (and listen to music and watch movies, both of which they carry in abundance), I had just always preferred the idea of owning books (and thus creating a library of my own). Since I always had way more books than I could get to, the idea of going to a library to check out more never made a lot of sense to me. The thing is, though, that the library is awesome. Their selection of kids’ books is incredible, which is great if you’re a parent, because, as Brian Regan has pointed out, kids’ books are absurdly expensive. As for adults, well, a library is like a book store except you may as well have Scrooge McDuck’s purchasing power. It’s all yours for the taking.

This epiphany hasn’t been all roses, however. Coming to love my library has made me retroactively furious about the rash of funding cuts to public libraries across the country. Fortunately, my son doesn’t hurt for access to books, but if you didn’t have the disposable income to spend on them, a library could make an enormous impact on the cognitive and academic development of your kids. Rather than spout off on a subject about which I am regrettably ill-informed, I’m going to provide some links that will help you (and me) understand the issue more completely.

L.A. Public Libraries Restore Hours After Voters Rise Against Budget Cuts

Friends of the Aurora Public Library Help Alleviate Budget Cuts

Confronting the Biggest Threat to the Public Library

Public Library Funding Updates

Most Public Libraries are, at Best, Treading Water

Library Cuts Threaten Community Services Across Country

I doubt that Public Libraries will get too much play in the media during election season, but after seeing just a tiny portion of everything that’s available at these facilities (including the only internet connection many people are able to use), it’s become suddenly a much bigger personal concern. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to check out your local branch, try to get there sometime in the next couple of weeks* and see if you come to feel the way I do.

*If you have kids, then forget the ‘try’ and just go, it’s a great (and cheap) way to spend half an hour, and reading to your kids is one the most critical steps you can take to aid their development.

Curtis

I spent a lot of time at a public library as a kid.  The library I went to no longer exists but has been replaced by several newer, nicer, and more centrally located branches.  My mom is a teacher with a master’s degree in Library Science which means that I have eaten enough free pizza from Pizza Hut through the Bookit program to feed a small country.  I had the public library reading tree at home, I saw the bird lady when she came with cages full of raptors and I still have the library card that I signed as a little kid.  With that being said, I have probably been to the public library a handful of times since I graduated high school.  There are some great resources in public libraries, including renting movies and checking out books on your Kindle (or so my wife tells me, I disdain the Kindle).  I would imagine that my childhood home, and the one in which I will raise my daughter, was and will be similar to the one in which Josh is raising his son in now.  Which is to say there was no shortage of books in the Rogers home.  However, it literally pains me to think of kids growing up without the access to books that I had and so libraries must continue to be not only funded, but heavily promoted as a key aspect of any community.

I also have a few links to share:

First of all if you live in the Lexington area, you should know that our own library system is in the middle of their annual book sale to help support the libraries.  It ends later this week so check it out here.

A Day In The Life of A North Canton Library

For those of you of the Kindle persuasion E-book lending: Your public library’s best kept secret

An expanded library will be the lifeblood of our community This is obviously a geographically specific letter to the editor, but I thought it was well written and lays out a solid argument for the cause of saving community libraries.

Also of relevance is the website of The Library Journal

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5 Comments on “The Thing About Public Libraries”

  1. October 17, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Great post and links to useful information! Unfortunately, libraries continue to be the best kept secret throughout the country. This is particularly true in this age of technology and instant access to just about anything and everything through the Internet. There should be more of a priority to funding these wonderful institutions, for reading and learning are the fundamental building blocks to a productive and educated society.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. October 17, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    I love the library, and always have. Some of my best childhood memories are of the old, musty city library where I grew up. It was upstairs, above the old city hall, and the smell…oh, that smell of old books! I’m still considering going back to school someday to get a Master of Library Science.

  3. Aingealsile
    October 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    Libraries are amazing places to discover, read, and relax. I worked in one for three years and honestly, it was the best job I ever had. I moved on to a full-time position, but I still miss it. I have a decent sized “home library” for both myself and my children, but I cannot advocate enough for libraries. Large, small, they all need more funding, more recognition, and more program backing. The childrens section alone has saved me thousands of dollars–not to mention YA for my teenager, digital audiobooks on playaways, CD books, magazines, adult books, music CDs…it’s extensive. The library is an awesome place. My only issue with it is I wish more people were there for the books and programs, instead of just (in our area this is a major issue) free internet for Facebook and “renting” DVDs. On the whole though?
    My five year old wants to be a librarian when she grows up, because she’s been around them constantly since she was born. My older child is still discovering the joys of the library but even he loves the digital playaways for books.

    Especially right now, with tight budgets? Libraries can be your best friend, entertainment wise. Plus, ours has a program where you can check out Nooks and Kindle’s for 3 weeks at a time, pre-loaded with about 50 books a piece, in different genres. It rocks!

  4. October 18, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    I enjoyed your post! Thank you for giving attention to our best “free” secret.

    • February 2, 2013 at 5:33 am #

      I left a fantastic acdovacy session at #ala11 (see savenyclibraries.com, they rock!), ran all the way there, got caught in the rain… And it was so worth it! Thank you for sharing !

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