Wednesday, July 14, 2010

PS - Save the Libraries!

Somehow Marilyn Johnson and I forgot to talk about library budget cuts!!! What kind of Outspoken Interviewer would I be if I didn't follow up about this important issue? A crappy interviewer, that's what! Marilyn was kind enough to take even more time to put together this "PS" guest post about saving the libraries. For me, this all started with a Fox affiliate in Chicago reporting that libraries are a suck on resources in the face of the Illinois budget crisis. You can read that article here.

"PS"


"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,

The ALA's advocacy center grows every time I check it out. http://ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/advocacy/advocacyuniversity/frontline_advocacy/intro.cfm and their advocacy sheets have such gems as the fact that Americans spend more money on candy than they do on libraries. Put that on your teeshirt! I love seeing all the authors stand up for libraries: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/altaff/authors_for_libraries/readers-libraries.cfm. Novelist Karin Slaughter says, "Funding libraries should be our number one national priority." Strong words, but absolutely true. Libraries offer the solutions to so many of our problems! And somewhere, I hope a nifty cataloger is cataloging all the opinion pieces that have been pouring out trying to make the case that funding libraries is good for all of us. I wrote my own for the LA Times. Libraries are neat, and librarians are fun….but libraries are also the foundation of this democracy.

9 comments:

  1. This is a great P.S to your interview. I am a big supporter of my local library through increasing their circulation and donating money whenever I can. I feel lucky that the library I go to is actually open 7 days a week!

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  2. Thanks, Kathleen! I just didn't see we couldn't follow up on this particular point given all the hoohah after the Fox story ran. Good for you for supporting your library. I was formerly a "Friend of the Library" in my last system, and as soon as my supplemental income kicks back in in September, I'll be a monetary friend again. Our kiddos love the teen programs, and I'm just a fan of everything. They do it well, and I'm not sure what I'd do without my library.

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  3. With the growing crime rate and poverty issues not only in Chicago but the rest of the country you would think we would embrace the fact our nations kids have somewhere to go to escape everyday life by spending their time in a library opposed to the alternative life in the streets. It is unlikely that under privileged kids have a computer at home or even access to the internet but to deny these kids a resource for educational purposes is an injustice served by the city of Chicago.

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  4. Anonymous, I couldn't agree with you more. Personally, my kids love the library and during the summer when they're bored and stuck in a limited neighborhood with friends out of town, the library becomes a hub of activity for them to reach out to others. I know many of my college students now also depend on the computers at the public library, as well as the reference service, to get through their degrees when in need of a computer or a helping hand to finish assignments.

    It's easy to see, from my end as an educator, how vital libraries are.

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  5. I couldn't agree more!! This is seriously the absolute last place that we need to be cutting funding. I sincerely wonder what the hell is wrong with people in government at times. Let's cut library funding, but send all of our public officials out in brand new 2011 vehicles...because they need those. I'm not going to go on a political rant on your blog, Andi :p But thanks for this PS to your wonderful interview!

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  6. I agree, Chris. It's just too much of a cultural and informational center for the public to even think about cutting funds.

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  7. Love the library and I agree, there should be more focus on supporting libraries!

    Thank you for adding the PS to your interview. More links to check :)

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  8. It's great to see authors standing up for libraries! I just started a new feature on my blog about libraries. They're so important and they can never get enough positive PR! My next post is going to be linking to articles/posts about libraries, I'll be sure to add this to the list!

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