"Estella" and I were having such a good time chatting about cutting edge librarians and drive-through libraries that we forgot to discuss the current trend to lop 30% off library operating budgets. This is NOT where we the people should be saving tax dollars. Libraries are remarkably efficient ways to share resources, especially in these tough times. We all have to have access to computers and the internet if we want to compete in the world, and let's face it, not everybody can stroll into the Apple store and order up a nice, shiny Mac. And librarians help anyone and everyone, from experts and small business owners to the vast numbers of the technologically challenged. They've helped me as a researcher, a frustrated computer user, a harried mother, a baffled citizen…whatever my problem, they can find a resource to help solve it. At this point, with so many other cuts to government and education services, libraries and librarians have been handling the spillover problems (most recently, they helped everybody, especially senior citizens, figure out how to access tax forms online) -- I worry that the cuts to libraries will leave us all without a safety net, without human help in navigating the bureaucracy, and without computer access for a significant percentage of our citizens. I don't think we have any idea how much of a load libraries have been carrying, and I worry that we're going to find out the hard way. Just look at the small business owners they've been keeping afloat! Look at all the children they've been keeping off the streets!
I'm heartened by the number of people who have been speaking out for libraries. All these wonderful, activist websites,
- ilovelibraries.org (the last one has a nifty state map that you can click on and make your voice heard on library issues: http://www.ilovelibraries.org/takeaction/findyourstate.cfm. Highly recommended!).