Sunday, April 14, 2013

National Library Week


 It's National Library Week.  If you are a regular library user I'd encourage you to use this week a couple of ways.  First, go tell the folks who work there that you appreciate their presence and their service.  Second, please write your elected officials to tell them funding of libraries is crucial to continue.  In my state they have seen their budgets slashed mercilessly. 

If you don't understand why it is important to have quality libraries full of quality resources managed by quality professionals allow me to educate you.  While everyone can think of the library as a place to find a good book to read or a place to study or conduct research it is so much more.  The access to computers and free internet can mean the difference between finding a job or not to someone who is unemployed and cannot afford a computer and internet.  For an immigrant it may be the place where classes in English are offered.  For illiterate but English speaking adults it may be the place where they are able to find a class where they can finally learn to read.  Local artists may have an opportunity to exhibit works, musicians may find a place to perform, civic and non-profit organizations may find meeting space and a means to freely publicize the services and activities they offer.  The list goes on. 

In a democracy, however, a public library offers access to information.  Ideally a library will give access to every point of view.  It has been said if a library is doing its job properly there will be something to challenge everyone's point of view.  The challenge is necessary so we may think through our positions fully and arrive at them after rational consideration.  The library's job is to promote the free discourse of ideas, even those we may find odious, because even if you disagree with a position you ought to be able to understand what it is and why you disagree with it.  Those most threatened by debate are those with the least ability to defend their positions, whether because their arguments are logically shaky or because they haven't given their positions deep enough thought. 

In a properly functioning library you have access to a myriad of opinions.  If you want to tell me you have that through Google I will agree that you have vast resources available but sometimes navigating the ocean requires some skilled direction.  The reference librarian will offer that to you insuring that the resources you are given are high quality.  Through a library you will also have access online to a far wider range of peer-reviewed research through databases you could not afford to purchase access to and without having to wade through endless pages of sponsored articles which are bumped up in search results not because of quality but because of other forms of maneuvering which may have nothing to do with the quality of information they contain.

If you haven't been to a library lately allow me to exhort you to visit one this week and see what your local library has to offer.


17 comments:

Dave said...

Very well written Michelle. I agree with you. We use our libraries regularly and appreciate them - Dave

Bijoux said...

It's always been my favorite place, at any age. I can't tell you how many free programs my kids attended at the library over the years. Middle Child even volunteered there as a teen, which I was grateful for.

Tabor said...

Applause and thank you for reminding me!

Daryl said...

as a kid the library was my favorite place to go ... the walk there was filled with anticipation .. would there be new books would the book i asked to be put on reserve be there would i be allowed to 'step up' to the YA section ... the quiet, the comfort and all those books ...

haphazardlife said...

Amen!

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

Is there anything worse than needing a library and not having one?

You don't have to answer.

Just think long and hard about it.

Stephen Hayes said...

Great post. Libraries are so important and should be used and treasured.

(M)ary said...

I am a library lover!
I was in the video section recently and heard a mom ask her kids what video they wanted to check out...the little girl whined ' I want a book. a book. a booooook'.

(Yes! score one for the readers.)

Sailor said...

Love our libraries- even when I don't use it as regularly as I used to- it's nice to know it's there. I'm going to make a point, just from this post, to stop in this week & say thanks to the staff; also, thank you, for this post :)

coopernicus said...

the sign is awesome. it could work in so many different places in my office...

Hilary said...

Well said, Michelle. And let us not forget that for many, it's the place to acquire an otherwise unaffordable book. There's such pleasure in reading and even more joy in cuddling up with a child to read a book that draws them in. We'd be lost without libraries.

Beach Bum said...

I about had a cow one morning while channel surfing and heard the trio on a certain news channel morning program all agree that since everyone had access to the internet public libraries weren't needed anymore.

Kat said...

Yes! Wonderfully written. Thank you!

silly rabbit said...

I often yearn for my lost library. If one can love a building... a library and all it contains forever holds my heart.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I still remember the thrill as a kid of walking out of the library with yet another stack of books. My gateway to the world.

Craver Vii said...

"Those most threatened by debate are those with the least ability to defend their positions, whether because their arguments are logically shaky or because they haven't given their positions deep enough thought."

I like that challenge, and I would like to see more people take that seriously.

My local library is really outstanding, and my family goes almost every week, and often we hit it twice or three times in the week.

I do find web searches to be useful, but if I want to have an authoritative position, I need to grab my info from the library.

Suldog said...

I love libraries (and librarians, I might add.)

I have been a libertarian sort ever since I hit puberty. That is, among other things, I'm about as anti-tax as you can get. But the one thing I would NEVER complain about is funding of libraries. They are essential to a fully-functioning free society.