Sunday, April 14, 2013
National Library Week
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.