November 2, 2011

5 Reasons To Support the Chicago (and Your Own) Public Library

If you have been following the local news, you've heard that the Mayor is planning a series of budget cuts, including funding for the Chicago Public Library. Already, there's been a great outcry about it, with an online petition being circulated, and Chicago librarians are going all #OccupyWallStreet in response.

And thank God, that's a good thing.

Oh, I know you're probably wondering why we should hold onto something as antiquated as a library....well, here are five of them. Read on and listen well.
  1. Libraries serve as anchors of the community - they're not just about providing shelter, but also serve as one of the primary resources for information. Not everyone has access to a bookstore, or a piece of technology that serves the internet; libraries make information and resources available to people of all social strata. Take away libraries, and you may as well write off a community. It's the first, best line of defense against an uninformed, divided populace.
  2. Many friends of this blog are also librarians - so yes, I'm a bit biased. But in these hard economic times, these are the people who work hard to make sure that those books are shelved, that information you need can be found...and are quiet heroes in their own way. So let's show them some love, because they work hard. 
  3. Not everyone has tech (see # 1) - look, let me drop some knowledge on you - you don't have to be a co-organizer for Chicago Net Tuesday to know that there are digital and tech "haves" and "have-nots"; most of the people who don't see the need for libraries probably might not realize this. Libraries allow people to engage in new tech in a hands-on way....and plus, free wi-fi! In that spirit....
  4. Libraries provides a multitude of services - for free! A library card can help you get your hands on books! (Including graphic novels) Movies! DVDs! Compact discs! All for the low, low price! And in these troubled economic times, who couldn't use free?
  5. There's a little something for the whole family - when I was small, libraries helped introduce me to whole different world - checking out Sherlock Holmes and Doc Savage for the first time, doing research for a young adult, it provided me with a place of (relative) solitude....and as an adult, I can track down hard-to-find books if they're in the system. It's very rewarding to see a parent with kids checking out a huge stack of books....because that means that they're striving towards become more literate, more thoughtful, and more intellectually curious. Libraries bring people together.
Granted, some of you may be thinking that this is old fashioned...but that's the point. One day, we won't have power to fuel lamps, or laptops, or iPads. But there will always be a need for books. And as a consequence, a need for libraries.

I'm right. You know it. Act accordingly.