December 14, 2010

A rant in the name of library love

This post needs more stats so I sound like I know what I'm talking about. I don't have them. Sorry about that.

I just got an email alerting me to the new policies being implemented in the libraries where I used to live in Colorado. I'm not so great at keeping up with news, local or national or international, so I was a little bit heartbroken to learn that 4 out of 7 Arapahoe county libraries closed a little over a year ago.

The techies and whippersnappers can commence their monologues, now. Go ahead. I will wait to make my point.

Okay, enough. I know the world is changing at warp speeds. I know newspapers are shriveling up and businesses are increasingly paperless, as well as academic institutions (and if textbooks went paperless I'm sure college students everywhere would rejoice). But the thing is, what percentage of the world's populations can actually afford iPads or Kindles? I'm uneducated in this area, but isn't the basic social goal of literacy a step that has to come before the general population can afford e-readers?

I suppose we'll get there eventally, but the fact is most of the world is poor. And most Americans live on a modest income; 68% of the population makes between $25 and $50K per year.

The point? We need libraries. And not just for the books and the movies. They provide more than the archaic, outdated, gasping-their-dying-breath-medium known as books. They are full of community-oriented resources, events, meeting spaces, and materials that the average person doesn't have easy access to. As a taxpayer who literally lives paycheck to paycheck but does her best to stay responsibly out of debt, and who also happens to love to read, I can't praise the institution and rich resource of libraries enough.

I don't want to criticize the County's aim to provide services primarily for their taxpayers. This is understandable and fair. What troubles me is that there is even a NEED, to begin with, to separate taxpayers from non-taxpayers PER COUNTY in order to lighten the load for the libraries that remain.

That's depressing enough, let alone charging an annual $100 fee to those non-taxpayers to enjoy the same benefits that same-county residents enjoy. Why don't the aliens have their own libraries in their own counties? Why aren't the same resources available to them, such that it's worth it to them to wander miles outside of their own communities to find them?

Now that I have pounded out my anger and frustrations on my frail keyboard, I don't know how to conclude this. I'm sad that, whoever voted these decisions through, such people don't see (or see, but don't prioritize) the need for libraries in communities. Negative Nancy says those same people probably list "watching tv" as a primary hobby. I'm inclined to agree with Nancy.


  1. yes. yes yes yes. it's so nice to hear this sort of thing from someone who isn't in the field.

  2. Another note on library love:

    One of our local librarians, whom our Writing Center works with on community writing programs, won this award. Pretty cool stuff.

  3. We used to have to pay a per-book fee at the Tyler library because we were technically outside the city (i.e. outside the applicable tax district). In-city residents could check out books for free. It definitely limited the amount of books I got to read - and because I was an avid reader even at a young age, that was heartbreaking. I feel that we (as a society) need to get more creative about libraries - how to fund them and how to keep them alive and accessible.

    (We didn't have our own library because Chapel Hill is just a "community," not even a town. Not nearly enough resources for libraries beyond those housed in the public schools.)

  4. My mom is the head of the catalogue department in her upper class city's library. You should hear the crazy stories she tells me. Example: Woman comes stamping into the circ. department complaining that the drive thru isn't open and she can't get her daughter's Miley Cyrus dvd. Circ. employee says, I'm sorry but it opens in 15 min. Now that you're in here, may I get it for you? Woman rants that the library is lying about being underfunded and how she refuses to vote yes on more funding blah blah blah. The circ. employee explains that the drive thru isn't open for another 15 min b/c the library is understaffed due to budget's so complex and crazy (and there are many things wrong with the above story such as "Miley Cyrus" and "library drive thru") I don't even understand it all and my mom works in a library. Sorry so long hahaha! I guess what I'm trying to get at is go Anna! I agree!!