Life Without Libraries

18 Jun

Jeff Jacoby, a columnist at The Boston Globe, wrote an opinion piece titled “Life Without Libraries Would Be Unimaginably Poorer” yesterday.  The writer talks about his experience in libraries growing up and how, although technology is important, it doesn’t make a library – books make a library.

I had a similar experience growing up.  We lived only a few blocks from our local library and my parents took us to the library often.  I remember agonizing over which five books I could check out for the week and I couldn’t wait to get home and sit down and read them.  I very clearly remember my mom telling us “to go out and play” and in my world that meant grabbing my book and sitting outdoors and reading.  I was only about seven years old when I asked a librarian how old I had to be to begin working in the library.  Sadly, the answer was 14, leaving me with seven long years of waiting.  But the week I turned 14, I headed to the library and soon began paging.  A year and a half later, I was offered a part-time after school job working Tuesdays, Friday nights, and every other Saturday.  You could say I lived and breathed libraries, and I still do.

Do I believe libraries are all about books?  Yes and no.  I think it’s important for kids and adults to have access to books, especially if you don’t have many at home.  But, I believe, libraries are so much more than books, especially public libraries.  Public libraries have books, magazines, movies, video games, toys, cake pans, technology, music, audio books, seeds, and so much more.  Public libraries offer programs for children from birth to seniors and everyone in between.  Public libraries have crafts, makerspaces, 3D printers, storytimes, knitting classes, ESL conversation groups and more.  Are public libraries about books?  Yes, they are.  But, they’re also about educating the community, bringing people together, and having fun.

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