Friday, March 26, 2010

Will your grandchildren be asking what a library is?

It would appear that libraries are a ripe target for municipalities that are trimming their budgets. Boston is often thought of as a literary city, but it is just one of several cities where libraries are feeling the pinch. In fact Boston may be closing some locations all-together. In Los Angeles, staffing cuts are said to be shortening the weekday hours of operation and shutting down completely on Sunday.

How many of us take libraries for granted? Honestly, I think a good deal of the time they are not occupying a significant front and center portion of my mind. I don’t think I’ve ever really stopped to consider what would happen if they were not there.

Students of course are highly dependent upon them. And I saw a figure that suggests that one third of Americans go online at libraries. Is that their only internet access? I suppose for many it is. Again, I probably take for granted that most have easy access in their own homes.

Could we see the day of privatized libraries with memberships? Or a time when the library we used had no walls, no visible librarians in the dark framed glasses? We entered our membership numbers online and uploaded reading and research material. That kind of change is probably not lurking just around the corner yet, but like many of the services that we’ve come to take for granted, the access we have to libraries is at risk of some change due to the monetary constraints of municipalities. A nation that at times seams loath to read if it isn’t required of them, stands much to lose from loss of public library access. How queer it seems that with all the modern marvels taking place around the world, keeping a library door open for the public may just too challenging for cities.
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