I’ve been thinking a lot about libraries lately. There’s a local ballot issue asking for a small mill levy increase to help fun our local library district that will cost the typical homeowner an additional $10 per year. Not per day or week or month — per year. Yet, there are people who oppose this small increase — desperately needed by our underfunded library — because they, personally, do not use the facility. I’ve even heard some suggest that those who utilize its services should pay for that privilege.
This astounds me.
One of my favorite treats as a child was a visit to the library. I’d come home with a stack of books to read, feeling like I was the luckiest person on earth. I could visit new places, real or imagined. Make new friends, learn about horses or gardens or numbers or distant planets or kingdoms or explorers or dinosaurs. My world was limitless.
I came across a quote from Lady Bird Johnson today. “Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.” A library levels the playing field in the quest for learning and knowledge.
As an author, I’ve been asked if I resent that people can borrow one of my books from a library rather than pay for it. Absolutely not! If someone takes the time to enter the worlds I create from my imagination and gets something out of that experience, that is a great compliment to me. If they enjoy a book enough, they’ll tell others about it and they, in turn, may buy a copy or borrow it from a library. It’s all good.
A library is a meeting place, a town hall, a teacher, an entertainer, a mentor. Even as people turn to e-books and the internet, there will always be a place for borrowing books, using computers, getting help from librarians, seeking out others who love to read, showing children the joy of reading, and much more.
A public, free library is a key part of the foundation of any community.