There is an article, In Praise of Libraries (The Rotarian Magazine, March 2015), that is getting a lot of buzz in library circles. Even if you aren’t in the library world, you should read it. It’s a hymn of praise, as you can see by its opening paragraphs:
The public library is the only civic institution in my community that is uncompromisingly successful. Not everyone in my small town is crazy about the police force, and not everyone is all that pleased with the public schools. No one ever seems terribly happy with the planning board, the architectural review board, the board of trustees. Some people think the volunteer firemen get too much money for new equipment, though no one ever dares say it out loud.
The public library is different. The public library is the community’s kindly grandmother: helpful, patient, understanding. Nobody in my town ever stands up and says he dislikes the public library. Nobody in your town does, either. Grumpy old librarians who keep shushing you, sure. But not the library itself.
There are some great points like: the library is taken for granted, the library is free (“come one, come all”), the library makes society better, the library is not judgmental. . . and on and on. As I said, the article is getting a lot of praise and appreciation. The following Twitter post is just one example:
And I agree. It’s a fantastic article. But, I also think talk is cheap. From my experience there are lots of people who think the library is great. There are even lots of public officials who think libraries are great. But they don’t want to pay for them, or have their constituents pay for them, or fund them properly in their budgets. So we need to go one step further. We need to speak out, to our local officials about how great libraries are, AND how we need them to appropriate sufficient funding. Libraries are great and important things for society, for communities, and the folks who live in those communities. But good libraries don’t come cheap. Praise alone is not enough.