Wednesday, July 8, 2009
In Praise of Libraries: Part I
Above is an actual picture of my local library from the outside.
Yesterday I wrote a post about how I learned that I like reading happy things on the Editorial page. It gave me a surprising lift Monday to read something positive in the paper. I may have also got that lift because for weeks I have been considering writing a post about why public libraries are awesome. Then I chicken out because it seems weak. Who could possibly disagree with the awesomeness of a Public Library? I can't think of ANYTHING that could bring people's opinions together in unity like saying "Public Libraries are great!"!
But when I read the commentary in the paper (which I linked yesterday), I didn't think to myself "How lame! Couldn't they think of something with a little more bite to include in the paper?" No. I was completely bowled over with happy, positive, and optimistic feelings.
I decided to share that with them by writing a positive letter to the editor, praising them. It turned out I spent way more space praising public libraries, but that's okay, they deserve it. I wrote several reasons why in the letter, which is by no means exhaustive. Maybe I should do a regular feature titled In Praise of Public Libraries....
Below is my letter to the Chicago Suntimes. I changed the name of my town to Suburban Chicago, and my name to Moschmossgepup. While my cyber friends I have known for months know these details, and it wouldn't be too hard to figure them out, I like to leave people with a bit of mystery...It's how I roll...
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to praise the commentary written by Mary Dempsey and Jim Rettig entitled In Web Age, Libraries as Important as Ever. It was good to read a positive commentary on the Editorial page for a change.
I live in suburban Chicago, and I greatly appreciate the many various benefits I receive from Eisenhower Public Library District. They provide many services in a pleasant, professional, and friendly manner.
1) Books. I borrow on average about two books per week. How much would that cost me if I bought the books instead? A new copy of a book can cost anywhere from $12 for paperback to $30 or more for hardcover. That adds up to possibly costing from $642 dollars to $1500+ per year. Who has that kind of money in this economy? Not I…
What if Eisenhower Public Library does not have what I am looking for? I have two words for you: interlibrary loan. This is true for books on tape, movies, and music as well.
2) Books on tape. My mom and I love to share books on tape (or C.D.) together. We listen to maybe one per week. That could run into a couple of thousand dollars.
3) Movies. Not all movies are easily available at Blockbuster… The excellent librarians at Eisenhower Library helped me get the silent version of Joan of Arc on interlibrary loan. Of course, one may find more recent films there, if that is to your liking…
4) Music. Sometimes, I see a play or a movie, and I love the music, and want to hear it again, but I know I don’t need to purchase the music. I want to enjoy it for a brief time, but I know that soon I won’t find it as compelling, and it would only clutter up my C.D. collection. This is an excellent time to borrow the C.D. at the library.
5) Programs. The library brings in people to talk about various things. Eisenhower has invited authors to speak about their work, including the author of a cookbook who taught us how to make fried rice.
6) Computer classes.
7) Book clubs.
I can go on, but won’t.
I have thought often about the benefits I receive at my local library, and was glad to see a commentary in praise of public libraries. There really is something for everyone there, if only they bother looking.