Friday, January 6, 2012

Support Your Local Library

I volunteer at my local library one afternoon a week.  I am the "computer person." I assist people who might need help on the computers that are available for free use at our library. When I'm not helping people, I shelve returned books and DVDs, find "requested" books for patrons, and fill my own arms with books and movies to take home and enjoy. When I was young, I "played" librarian. The local library, with its wooden floors, quiet spaces, and wonderful smells (books smell better than bacon in my world!), was a place in which I spent a lot of time.  Back then, I just assumed that libraries would be a part of my life forever!  But now I'm beginning to wonder.

Libraries are in trouble.  Kids and adults alike are home playing video games, or reading books on electronic devices.  They even are buying music off the internet. Do they realize their library has hundreds of CDs that are available for the downloading  FREE!  Reading as a pastime seems to be waning.  And the library as a destination is quickly becoming almost as archaic as people subscribing to a daily newspaper (a topic for another day!).  

The books, magazines, newspapers, movies, CDs, computers with internet access, and other items of interest available at your local library are still there .. but people seem to be too busy to come and check it all out.  Most of these services and products are FREE, but even that doesn't seem to provide enough incentive.  

Many Fridays it is quiet here in our little branch.  People come and go and use the computers ... filling out job applications, checking their Facebook page, playing video games, etc.  At the end of December, lots of young parents brought their kids in to get books and movies ... you could tell it was almost time for that Christmas vacation to end!  But there aren't droves of people.  Recently, there was a cut in the hours and days the library is open.  It's now open only one night a week. When my kids were young, it was open almost every night except Saturday and Sundays.  Money is short in local government budgets and libraries seem to be an easy target.

It makes me sad to think that there is a future out there in which libraries might not be around.  We will all be locked into spending money to buy anything we want to read.  There will be nowhere to go for free research for that school term paper, nowhere to find a free copy of Consumer Reports and check out the pros and cons of new refrigerators, nowhere for kids to page through oversized picture books or listen to the "library lady" read to them from the latest Harry Potter during Storybook Hour, nowhere for Dad to go to read the latest issue of Sports Illustrated without having to subscribe to it, nowhere for Mom to go to check out the latest issue of House Beautiful and dream of remodeling her kitchen someday, and definitely nowhere to go that smells better than bacon.

Today I noticed a sign on the library wall.  I think it says it all:
Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.
When was the last time you visited YOUR local library?  We're here, waiting for you.

1 comment:

tims_mom said...

I was there Wednesday, and borrowed Joanna Fluke's newest book. Have you read her? She writes about "Lake Eden Minnesota" and her mystery is sprinkled with recipes throughout the book. All her books have food names! While I have an e-reader, I still would rather hold the actual book in my hand to read.