Libraries, One of the Wonders of the World

Emilie smiling at Culpeper signing cropped.jpgImagine this, if you can.  A special place people visit just because they want to learn more about their favorite subject. 

Imagine this.  A special place where, for nothing more than the moments spent filling out a form, wonderful books are handed over to take home, read and enjoy.  And when they’re returned, more take their place.

Imagine this.  A special place where children come to learn the joys of reading.  Where they listen to stories read by expert storytellers, play games on computers, choose books to love at home.

Imagine this.  A place where volunteers and paid staff plan programs of interest to the community.  Free or inexpensive programs that rival any entertainment on television.

Now, imagine this.  Libraries closing, because there are no funds to keep their doors open in these difficult economic times.  Gone will be the chance to discover new ideas and subjects.  Gone the purpose for that library card passport to hours of entertainment.  Gone, too, story hours and the accompanying boost to a lifetime of reading skills.

My local library system is proposing significant cuts.  Among the suggestions?  Closing my local branch for three of the six days it’s now open, as well as other local branches, besides. And the librarian who enters new books into the computer system?  Gone, too, along with other positions.  Let’s not even talk about all the books that won’t be added to the shelves.

As a child I learned to read from library books.  My mother read them to me.  I memorized words, and soon I was reading on my own.  I remember the smell of that library, exactly where the Oz books were on the shelves, the day that I graduated to the adult section.  If we can’t protect our libraries, so much more than our economy is in trouble. 

Yesterday I spoke and signed books at a luncheon at the Culpeper County Library.  You can read about the talk here.  But more important, I learned that not only is that wonderful library thriving, it’s about to add an important addition.

That’s good news.  Very good news.  Culpeper’s got the right idea.  And so do the many citizens of my own county who have turned out to tell our beleaguered county board that budget cuts must come from other places. 

Leave our libraries alone.  If you make changes, make this one.  Boost funding.  Because, when times are tough, libraries are the very hearts of our communities.


  1. April on April 7, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Well said! I found the library to be a special refuge as a child. It was my passport to many adventures, many hours of entertainment. I would think that people would learn from past mistakes. Budget cuts have made changes in public school systems, the children do not have P.E. everyday, like I did as a child, and now we have a child obesity issue (not that I think that is the only cause, but I do believe it plays a part). I shudder to think what eventual cost will come from library closings. I visit my library weekly. I take my children. I vote to keep it open. I am a member of the Friends of my local library. I am because I feel it is a necessity.

  2. Emilie Richards on April 7, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I think the Friends of the Library organizations have been largely responsible for keeping libraries healthy and not in the crosshairs of many local governments. Keep up the good work, and thanks for your comment.

  3. Louise Corona on October 21, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    I subscribe to the Dear Reader book club for romance and was so pleased to see that you were the guest today. I am an avid reader and remember reading your romance novels many years ago. I was ill for a year as a child and had to spend the time in bed. My constant friends were library books that came to us in a bookmobile that came weekly to our area. We did not have a library and when I finally got to go into a brick and mortar building with the shelves full of books, I fell in love. I love the smell and the feel of books in a library. My mother and her friends started a volunteer library and I was allowed to shelve books. Heaven! My local library is my favorite place and my grandchildren now go with me. The state of Pennsylvania where I live is having major budget problems and is cutting library funding. During the recent book sale, the library asked patrons to write a letter to the governor and state senator to keep the funding. They provided paper and envelopes and it was a big success. I rediscovered the art of letter writing and hope to keep in touch with my relatives more often. Libraries are constantly changing and providing so many needed services especially in times like now when many out of work people use them to help find jobs and families can get free movies and videos. Thanks for your books and for your fun blogs.

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