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.