Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Libraries Are A Luxury?

Carole posted about her Peace Cowl and how knitting it may have helped her stay peaceful when someone called libraries a luxury at a town meeting. (She's picking her battles and saving her rousing speech for when it's time to actually request money.) I was aghast, outraged, and dumbfounded (and probably naive) that anyone could consider libraries a luxury and have been thinking about it since then.

It's probably preaching to the choir as I've yet to meet a knitter who isn't also a reader, but it's not the choir we have to convince. I worked as a library assistant in both elementary and middle school libraries, and lost my job when Chris Christie and our own school district didn't value libraries enough. I was called "low-hanging fruit" and my position was considered "low value-added" at multiple board meetings, but the worst part was that these adults charged with educating students in the best way possible did not have an inkling of what we did in the library or how important it is. We invited all of the school board members to spend a day with us and see that we taught research methods, how to evaluate sources, critical reading of those sources, what constitutes plagiarism, and how to become literate seekers of information, educated users of all types of information technology, and enthusiastic readers. Not a single board member took us up on it, and after this year's election I know many adults desperately need these lessons. 

I live in New Jersey, the state with the highest property taxes, the eighth highest state and local taxes, the fifth highest income tax, and the third highest overall tax burden. Want to know where I got those numbers? From the reference librarian at our county library. I want my taxes to support education and libraries because they are important providers of information, education, and recreation to all. 

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries. ~ Anne Herbert

What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it feels about education. ~ Harold Howe

The library card is a passport to wonders and miracles, glimpses into other lives, religions, experiences, the hopes and dreams and strivings of ALL human beings, and it is this passport that opens our eyes and hearts to the world beyond our front doors, that is one of our best hopes against tyranny, xenophobia, hopelessness, despair, anarchy, and ignorance. ~ Libba Bray

A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life. ~ Henry Ward Beecher

The above are quotes that I've used when I needed to defend libraries. Anne Herbert, Harold Howe, Libba Bray, and Henry Ward Beecher are not well-known names, but want to know where you can find out more? At the library, and a librarian will be happy to help you. Advocate for your libraries and librarians, make your opinions known to the library board and the government that is funding these important resources, and check out the American Library Association for ways to save libraries in your state. 

Because libraries are an absolute necessity.


  1. I agree 100%. I love to read and there is no way I could afford to buy all the books I read (nor do I want to). My library card is one of the first things I get any time I move. I also like that my library will request books from other libraries if they don't have the book I want. And that the librarians will put a book on hold for me so that my toddler doesn't have to wait for me to find my book. When my youngest was a baby I also used the ebook loans so I could get my new books without having to take my toddler and baby into the library. I have never understood those that don't go to a library. They are a priority in my life. Thanks for the post.

  2. Yes! Yes! A thousand times YES! In trying to figure out where I might be able to do SOMETHING to try to make a difference in the current political climate, I eventually came to ... literacy. (In a former life, I was a reading teacher, so I'm kind of going back to my roots.) Early in the new year, I'm signed up for a 3-day training course to become a literacy tutor. I know it's a drop in the bucket. But reading - and libraries - offer hope. (And a whole lot more.) XO

  3. Our current CEO bragged to us in our first meeting with him that he graduated from Yale "without having to go to the library once!"

    A) Yale must be so proud, and B) Probably not the best way to introduce yourself to the library staff.

  4. Yes to all of this! I think you may have a future on the local town council...maybe???

  5. I'm in the front row of the choir on this one, as you know, but your words brought a really big smile to my face!

    I agree with Patty - your town may need you on council. Or at least on the library board.

    (And that guy who never went to the Yale library... I bet he used tons of paywalled literature courtesy of the Yale Library even if he never went into their building.)

  6. I am sitting here reading this with tears in my eyes at how often a library has been my salvation. It was the door to summer vacation with limitless destinations available. It was the quiet solace when I needed to collect my thoughts. It was the place that had computer access when computers were a luxury. It is the place I went to do genealogy research years before ancestry.com was even an inkling of an idea in its creators mind.

    And you are so right, what a library has available to its citizens is critical right now. And will be even more so with Dumb is the New Black taking over our land. We need to make libraries vital especially since never-my-president is open about his dislike of books and reading.

    Thank you for opening my mind to this needed cause. I will be calling my local branch to see if they have need of any volunteers.

  7. Our county is very fortunate to have a fantastic library system. I have 3 libraries within a short distance of my house. The have expanded their computer banks and offer many programs for children, ESL, and adults. They work hard to be a big part of our community. Every county in the country should have what we have (and more!).

  8. We have great libraries where I live, and I use them weekly, if not several times a week. I would be lost without these libraries, but then I want to KNOW THINGS. It is very sad that everyone doesn't understand the value of knowledge that is free to everyone who wishes to learn.

  9. Best.Post.Ever. Thank you for spreading the library love, Bonny!

  10. I worked in one of our library branches for over 10 years - and then after I quit - I went back as a volunteer. I too heard this comment - not just once - but several or more times - that libraries are a luxury. I came close to punching out their lights - but kept my cool and breathed deeply - LOL!
    I will say, in my area here in Virginia - we are blessed to have tons of branches available to us - open for so many days and hours each week... a lot of people I know across the US don't have that!

    Linda in VA

  11. Thank you for writing this! (and for pointing me to Carole's post which I apparently, in the haze of all that knitting, missed!) Our local library system is doing well - the two branches nearest to me just got new buildings in the past two years. I didn't realize how much of luxury that was!

  12. I so agree! Our local school district upon a librarian retiring hired a school teacher to be the librarian (no library science degree) oh the outrage! The school district stuck to its decision. We are lucky to have a nice town library and while I rarely go there, I send them money to support them after all the government funding cuts. I have fond memories of taking stacks and stacks of books out and my children doing the same.

  13. This post should be an op-ed in every single local (those that remain) newspaper across the country.
    It's a sort of "there's your problem" to our current state of affairs.

    When dh & I talked about retiring I had two requirements: A good library system and a good health care system. We have both locally, so no need to retire anywhere else!

  14. Amen! Yes! You bet'cha! No problema!
    Goodness gracious!

  15. Hear, hear! I am an advocate for libraries, too, and lucky enough to live in a county with ten -- count 'em, 10! -- municipal libraries. County population is <45,000.


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