Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Silver Lining

I can no longer easily find a parking spot. My favorite chair is now usually occupied. “This item is not renewable because there is a waiting list” is the startling reply as I try to hold onto that book I haven’t yet read for a few more weeks. My territory has been invaded.

Thus I nodded my headed knowingly as I read Joseph Berger’s article in the New York Times that there has been a “surprising upside to the economic downturn.” What’s the good word? Yes, indeed, I already knew. “Libraries are booming.”

People are rediscovering the library in droves. They are borrowing books, CDs and DVDs. They are using the free internet service and attending the free weeknight programs. According to one librarian Berger quoted, the library is being used “as a gathering place for people who are intelligent and have similar values so they’re not as isolated.”

Can it be that there is actually a silver lining to this dismal economic situation? Of course the library budgets are being cut along with everything else. But will people actually start to appreciate the tremendous resource that is their local public library? Will new users now become aware of how important the library is to their community and possibly contribute to fundraising efforts when they can? If movies are too expensive will more parents take their kids to the library to find a good book or two?

Perhaps our libraries will finally be acknowledged in the public’s mind. Imagine everyone valuing them as much as those of us who love to read. I’d be thrilled to see it happen. As long as I get my chair back.


Gwendolyn said...


I hope you get your chair back. And I understand your frustration when you want to keep a book that others have requested. Our small neighborhood library has been a little crowded lately, so I visit the newer downtown library. It’s beautiful with an auditorium that has great programs like a concert with the throat singing group Huun Huur Tu, a play based on the award winning book Crossing Bok Chitto, and it has a café. The library is across the street from an art museum that also has a café. Yes, I am obsessed with food.

AMD said...

Our library is booming too. For several years, it has had the highest circulation in the state, but it's been busier than ever recently. We like it because it's in walking distance, it's got a great children's play area, and the story time provides an enriching time for children as well as a chance to visit with other parents.
One disappointment is that it's closing next week. We'll have to visit other libraries for a year or so while it's getting remodeled.

Pufferbellies Toys and Books said...

When I worked at the local library, we had a poster that said, "Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries." I believe that quote is credited to Anne Herbert, but I'm not sure.

I think it's absolutely true that libraries across the country are booming, and the demand for library services is increasing as our economy suffers. Unfortunately, with state and local budget cuts, our local library budgets have really suffered resulting in staffing shortages and no money to aquire new books!

Sometimes local governments see libraries as non-essential services. Of course, this is absolutely untrue--because libraries are free for everyone and because librarians know how to find information about everything (better and more reliable than the Google!), libraries and librarians keep our freedoms, including the freedom to read, safe.

Go, libraries, go!