Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Goodbye to Libraries?

The book world has been buzzing lately at the effects of the following story by a Chicago news team about the potential of cutting down, even eliminating, libraries:

Yes, the internet is wonderful, yes, e-books certainly have their benefits, yes, we all love a good book shopping spree, but I, for one, absolutely cannot support the elimination of libraries across our nation.

Some of my best childhood memories take place at the local library.  My mother and my friend Chelsea's mother used to take turns every other week bringing us to story time at the library and to check out some new books.  I distinctly remember fighting as five and six-year-olds over who saw which Barney book first and who had dibs.

I remember my whole family participating in the summer reading programs and challenges every summer and looking forward to getting the penguin stickers on my chart to mark my progress.

When I was a child, the library was a magical place.  It's where I learned to have a love of words, a love of books, a love of reading.  And when I have children of my own,  I want them to have the experiences I had at the library.  I want to take them to that magical place and share with them how I developed my passion for reading. 

Even now, as an adult, the library can remain a magical place, full of possibility, full of security, full of opportunity. It's  where I met to personally tutor a functionally illiterate adult twice a week for 8 months a couple of years ago, during which time I got to share with him the joy of the written word and the excitement of discovering it.

The world would certainly have lost a million of the most amazing, wholesome places for us and our children to go if it eliminated these wonderful institutions.  Perhaps I have gone to the library somewhat less frequently than I used to as a child, and I probably deserve a slap on the hand for that. But all of that can change.

Who's with me?  Let's save the libraries!  Here is a link with one person's idea for helping save the libraries.  But if you're not very politically minded, let's just work on collectively renewing the library spirit.

Here's the challenge:
  1. If you don't have a current library card, GET ONE.  Find your local library, and sign up for a free card.  I promise, it's really easy.
  2. Encourage all of your friends and family members to get one as well.
  3. Set a personal goal of books to check out from the library per week, per month, whatever you can manage.  Maybe instead of ordering that book online this time, go check it out from the library instead.
  4. If you have children, bring them to the library.  Read to them in the children's section.  Take them to story time.  Have them, too, participate in the summer reading challenges and all other library activities.
Okay, go to!  And also, share your ideas with us about how else we can all band together to save the libraries! Let us know if you are going to commit to helping save the libraries.