Odd that I find this out only mid-week. But still.
The greatest invention in the history of humankind was not the wheel. Nor the electric light. Nor the internal combustion engine. Nor radio or television. Nor the Internet.
The greatest invention was — and still is and always will be — the public library.
It’s access to knowledge that matters the most. Public libraries provide that.
And they do it with trained professionals who care about their work, who are devoted to it, who love books and who work not just for money — but as a vocation, as a calling.
And if you doubt that, read this post: God Bless All Librarians.
We live in a time of constrained budgets due to a malfunctioning monetary system. There are library budgets being targeted for trimming — and outright execution! — across this nation.
It’s precisely during times like these that public libraries are more needed than ever.
When someone has their Internet connection cut off due to pressing financial straits, there’s the public library to turn to with free access. I’ve seen the local NY Public Library system filled with people during recessions who require Internet access for employment-related activities: resume creation, job searching, emailing.
A public library becomes a lifeline of last resort.
You think we live in enlightened post-modern times, where the value of a public library shouldn’t even be questioned?
It’d be nice to inhabit such a world. But there are people out there who see everything through a skewed lens of warped beliefs. If you don’t believe that, read this post: “Public Libraries … [Are] Houses Of Death”.
Compared to the Internet, public libraries will always be a +1 event.
You think Google Books will have everything? Look in a public library and there’s the +1: the book that never got into Google Books (and likely never will).
Speaking of Google Books, where do you think all of those came from?
Before the word “digitization” was ever coined, there was the word “collection.” That was the task of public libraries: to collect the information of the world. And to preserve it for future generations.
That collection and preservation cost money.
And most of that money came from us, from our tax dollars.
We own the books in Google Books. Not Google.
Those of you laboring under the illusion that the Internet will replace the public library, go to the App Store and see what a future without trained librarians looks like: Apple’s App Store Needs Librarians.
And the App Store is a commercial venture — yet see what a mess it is!
Public libraries are commerce-free.
That is the difference between being motivated by profit versus passion.
I cannot imagine a future without public libraries. Without bookstores? Yes. Those are commercial entities and must fall under the rules of brutal capital. But a public library is for the benefit of everyone — today as well as tomorrow.
A nation without vibrant and well-funded public libraries is a nation that has given up on itself and has lost the will to survive.
Don’t let that day ever happen here.
If you don’t have a library card, go get one.
If you’re out there reading this with some money to spare, make a donation to your local library system.
And when you read a news item about libraries being endangered, do something! Don’t let them do that to all of us!
God bless the public library!