6 Feb 2007, 6:24:49 pm
I just read about another library closing. Not just 'a' library, but an entire library system. "ALL 15 Jackson County Library branches WILL BE CLOSED as of Saturday, April 7, 2007, due to a lack of funding." As a lover of libraries, I am moved beyond words really... It's devastating. I can't imagine a community without a library. At the Jackson Country Library blog Katherine Leppek's poem, Say Itís Not So covers it all anyway, so I'll keep my personal emotions out of it all.
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But as a publisher, I must speak of library closings.
Some publishers dislike libraries giving away free reads and whatnot (incredulous, but true; I've heard it with my own ears!) but this is very short-sighted indeed. (If you read here, you know we don't subscribe to such notions and value libraries deeply.) If a publisher worries about one library copy, even if the same title and number of readers are replicated at X locations, they are missing the point of individual copy sales versus a look at the love of reading and cultivating new readers.
At least at the very surface, library closings show via the lack of funding that reading isn't valued by communities. They don't want to put the money where the books are. You can say they can't afford to, but it call comes down to choices. They've deemed some other project or program as more important than reading.
What's worse, closing libraries only deepens the divides in this country. Those who can afford Barnes & Noble will still read; but what of those who cannot afford to buy books?
Is this proof that reading is dead? Or is this a matter of government spending cutting out the poor and leaving books to become luxuries for the wealthy only?
I might argue that as libraries are one of the only "proper" and "legitimate" organized strongholds against censorship in this country that their dwindling numbers might be part of the conservative plan to restrict &/or remove freedoms. If that's too much of a conspiracy theory for you, then at least realize that the loss of library strength becomes a win for those who would silence voices. At the very least those communities lose.
Reading is food for the soul, the intellect. Books are bringers of ideas. There are powers which would have us all less nourished. Dumber. Complacent.
To some, reading is a radical act.
As citizens, we must all speak against public library closings. Write so that your leaders vote to fund, not close. Donate to your library as an act of civil disobedience. Do whatever you can in support of your fellow readers -- and those that would be readers if they only had a library.