Libraries are essential to our growth and development--they're lifeblood for research. We know there are an infinite number of reasons to visit a library, and I can't imagine a world without them. But--more and more--we're seeing that libraries are in peril, slowly sinking into oblivion.
Budget cuts are destroying library services in communities and universities across the US: Texas, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, and beyond. In June, when they were protesting library budget cuts in Brooklyn, librarians said, "You can close our libraries when you step over our cold, beaten bodies, chained to the doors."
Yet, the cuts continue... And, as The Guardian reported, there have been ongoing funding cuts to libraries. Research and academic study is unavoidably damaged by the massive cuts, but the more subtle, long-term impact is difficult to determine. According to Michael Rosen (laureate, quoted by The Guardian), "All the statistics show that kids who read widely and for enjoyment have access to those higher forms of thought, and cuts to libraries mean cutting kids off from that." Just as we work to ingrain the universality of literature into the lives of children, they are being cut off from the access and resources they need the most--particularly in impoverished communities, already hit hard by the economic hard times.
Isaac Asimov famously applauds the library that fed him as a child. As he explains: "For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it. Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself."
Are we destroying ourselves by downplaying the importance of the library? What do we lose when we no longer have librarians who sit with us and share their love for books and literature? I've cherished conversations with the librarian bibliophiles I've had the privilege to know. What are your recollections of the library--past and present? Have you already been adversely affected by the cuts in your community? Are you fighting to save your local library?