Friday, June 25, 2010

Only YOU can prevent library closures

A good friend just shared a link on my Facebook wall: Libraries and Librarians are Endangered Species: What You Can Do To Help.

It's an article published on The Huffington Post, written by Carol Fitzgerald, an individual with quite a bit of experience in the publishing world.

At first I was really put off by the title, I don't think (or like to think of) libraries and librarians as endangered species. But I read the article, and it certainly brightened my day. Fitzgerald offered up a story of a community who rallied together to save their public library. Here's my favorite quote from her story:

As petitions were signed, one opinion dominated --- not one person supported closing the library. People were united, a rarity in local politics; the library needed to stay open. The politicians couldn't miss that message, and so, on the subsequent council vote, only one councilman opposed keeping the library open.

Reading this story made me think of another close call, that is still not in the clear. The City of Boston delayed the closing of branches by nine months to try and figure out a plan of reorganization. You can read the Boston Globe story here: Library Closings Temporarily Averted.

These stories are classic examples of what I was talking about in my post last week: The Sky Is Falling. Yes, we are living in scary scary times. Yes, there are real threats to our library systems, especially public and school libraries. But there are real people out there who work real hard to keep the libraries open and the materials circulating.

And they are average citizens, just like you.

I've been seeing this quote floating around the internet (and I'm paraphrasing here): Closing libraries during a recession is like closing hospitals during an epidemic. Now more than ever, free and uncensored access to information is essential to ensure a strong, healthy and democratic society. We need to establish libraries and librarians remain permanent fixtures of our communities.

Here are two things you can do right now to help:

1. Visit the American Library Association's Legislative Action Center by clicking here. This site not only offers an opportunity for direct action (by writing you Congressional Representatives, urging them to support the Library Services and Technology Act which makes $300 million dollars accessible to libraries through grants), but it's also a great resources to look up who your elected representatives are.

2. On a more local level, if you haven't already, join you local library's "Friends of the Library" association. Usually for a small annual fee of $15-20 (the price of a new book), you can help guarantee that your community will always have a library.

And on a personal note, Dewey's Not Dead has seen a big swell in readership the past few weeks, so I wanted to thank all of you who check back in and read what I have to say. Have any of you out there heard of other examples or opportunities of how we can be library advocates?

3 comments:

  1. Just as libraries need to be supported by communities, communities should be supported by libraries. Embracing diversity within their walls is just as important as claiming to embrace the diversity of the surrounding community.

    But as you know, I have particular feelings on this subject!

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  2. Thanks for the insightful comment, SR! Looking forward to the launch of your site...

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  3. I joined my Friends last week (a little more expensive out here, but I can drink for free to recommend cocktails to the Booklovers' Ball!), plus, my local-but-huge used bookstore offers a free program where 1% of your purchases is donated to a non-profit of your choice. Guess what I picked?

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