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A Reader of Fictions: Rant About the Government's Treatment of Libraries

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, August 9, 2010

Rant About the Government's Treatment of Libraries

Bad Decisions in the Government, Or Why Libraries Are More Important than Ever

One of my friends sent me this link this morning: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/100099219.html. For those not particularly eager to actually read the article, allow me to sum up. As is the case everywhere, the economy sucks. The government needs to cut budgets and turns to libraries, seeing them as a luxury rather than an essential. As a result, libraries are struggling to keep their doors open; many have reduced hours and some, like the system in Camden, NJ, may shut down entirely. Camden is not just shutting down one branch, but the whole system. That means there might not be any libraries in Camden next year.

For those outside of the library profession, maybe the importance of libraries is not as obvious as it is to me, so let me explain. More people are using the library now than did before the economy's precipitous descent into recession. The reason I think is obvious: libraries offer books (and often movies and CDs as well) for FREE (excepting fines). These are items that were easy for many families to go purchase on a whim ten years ago, but now are mostly for purchase solely around holidays and birthdays. When money is tight, you want to save money for absolute essentials. This means that if a soccer mom can get the latest Danielle Steel or Nora Roberts from the library instead of purchasing it from Borders or Barnes and Nobles, she will do so and save her the cost of $17.99 for each one.

On top of that, libraries offer free connection to the internet. Camden, according to the article, is a poor area; only one-third of the residents have internet at home. The internet may once have been a luxury, but now it is de rigeur and pretty much necessary for living in modern America. For example, if you want a job, the best way to look for positions is...on the internet. Applications are more and more frequently to be filled out and submitted online or emailed. For any but the most rudimentary position, you are going to need an email address.

So government people, what are you thinking (assuming that you are capable of doing so)? Please remove heads from sphincters and give the libraries money, because they improve life in an economic downturn for all people smart enough to appreciate them.

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