Thoughts on the Library

Recently, there have been a lot of rumblings about the library, by a number of decision makers for the city. Particularly, it seems as if they are questioning the need for libraries at all. I’ll disclose right off the bat that this effects me directly as my wife is employed by the Library, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

This is about why we still need libraries.

I basically grew up in the library. My mother worked part-time as a library assistant (another connection I personally have to the library) and I spent a lot of time there. I wouldn’t say we were poor, but hiring babysitters can be very expensive, so often I would come to the library with my mother and spend the day there.

There I would sit and read for hours. I would do crafts or read, and even as time went on I could play on the computers they had as well. I can easily make the claim without any exaggeration at all that these times in the library shaped who I am today. 

I love animals and always have, my pet cat is peering over my shoulder in fact as I write this. Having access to the library meant I could look at cool pictures of lizards and research facts about them. Many of those facts I still know today (did you know the Gila Monster is the largest poisonous lizard in North America? You can thank Zoobooks for that).

Going to the library I was able to escape into other worlds with my friend Scorch the dragon (The library’s stuffed mascot) and hear stories about Lions and Wizards and boys just like me during story time.

But books are only a small part of what a library is. I think most of all, the library taught me about knowledge. Sure I learned many interesting facts about things from books, and was entertained by storytime and playing on the computers, but that’s not what is important about a library. It was the ability to freely and easily access knowledge that makes the library valuable.

A library is a building with the sole purpose of sharing knowledge with everyone. Whether it’s access to computers to go on the Internet, or an old book with the location of castles in England, when you support the library, you are supporting knowledge at its core.

This is why comments saying that with the Internet libraries are no longer needed particularly bother me. Attacks against the library are saying that we as people, do not care about knowledge and we don’t care about the programs a library puts on to help people learn. The Internet is a great tool that many of us have access to without a library sure, but the library shouldn’t just be a portal to the Internet, just as it shouldn’t just be a storage place for books.

The library provides programs, entertainment, seminars, and many other things that help to share knowledge. Don’t know how the new gadget you bought works? The library gathers together volunteers to help teach you how to use it. Want to find a good way to get together with friends?The library has a book club in a bag!

Sure they may give out DVDs but who really cares? If you really think libraries are the reason for multinational companies like Blockbuster went out of business, I think you may need to spend more time in a library doing research yourself. DVDs, even fiction and pop culture ones are an important form of communication for our culture, and they should be shared just as books have been.

So with that I beg you, dear reader of this blog, don’t let knowledge fall by the wayside, stand up for the libraries. Let those who are in positions to make decisions know that you care about your libraries, and that they aren’t just something that costs money for the government.

Libraries are not just buildings with books, they are gateways to information. Let’s not close the doors.

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