Friday, September 18, 2009

Would you live in a city without a library?

Did you see this? That all libraries in Philadelphia were scheduled to close October 2?

Now since then the legislature has worked things out and the libraries won't be closing.

But this was on my mind today as I drove my kids to one of the branches of our public library. We checked out a ton of things--books, DVDs, videos and computer games. I have also in the past checked out audio books. I've gone to free programs there, taken my kids to free programs there and used the free community space for writing club meetings.

Looking at losing all of this I thought--I would not want to live in a city with no library. And I mean this seriously. Not just because of the free (well paid by my taxes free) stuff my family gets, but because of what it says about that city--that it doesn't value these things enough to provide them for their citizens.

Sure you can buy your own books/DVDs/Computer games, but what does that say? That only people with enough extra money deserve those things? That is, of course, ludicrous. Perhaps that it isn't in the public good to provide them--really? We don't want educated kids with free access to expanding their minds? We don't want our older citizens to gather, read and discuss? We don't think any of these things are important or at least we think they are not as important as other things we feel we MUST have?

Where do libraries sit on the list of must have things for you in a city you would move to? Because I can tell you if my husband and I were considering moving to a new city and I heard they didn't believe in libraries I would mark that place right off my list.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post.
I guess my country doesn't value libraries because we don't have any. I did hear there's one in the capital city but I never saw it. And I doubt they have much in there anyway.
Now that I'm living in China, I can see that people value books/DVD's/etc a little bit more. They have a few libraries in the city and many bookstores (really huge bookstores). It is unfortunate that I can't read chinese.
But like they say, you can't miss something you've never had.
I'm so curious to know how libraries work in America... and it will definitely be one of the first things I'll check out when I set foot over there.

Brandy said...

Delurking to reply. My family and I use our public libraries consistently. So much so that the librarians know us by name, and we know theirs. As a matter of fact, my Daughter volunteers there once a week. I can't imagine living anywhere where libraries weren't available. And I sure as heck would never willingly move to an area without them. There has been some talk online recently on whether libraries are still relevant. I say YES! I can't afford to purchase every single book or CD, or DVD I want to read, listen to or watch. And because of this, every year when I pay my car taxes and property taxes, I never once complain over the fee added for the libraries.

Pissenlit said...

My gosh, that is thoroughly horrifying. I'm glad they were able to head that off!

I think libraries are very important! I mean, it would be different if it was a country that didn't have many libraries but if it's just the one city, I'd definitely cross it off as a potential place to live. I don't think I'd much care for their priorities if they up and got rid of them all! Libraries are centres of information that everyone should have access to, whether you have extra money to spare or not. And oh my gosh, if kids had to rely on their parents to buy books for them to read? Gah! And some people go to the library to use the internet or to do homework because they haven't anywhere at home to do so.

Lori Devoti said...

Hilda, what country are you from? Are books readily available otherwise? I know some places have a hard time getting books because there are no or few local publishers. I would hate that too. Book wise I think we in the U.S. are a tad spoiled.
Brandy, I was listening to a guy on public radio about the history of health care reform in the U.S. and the different presidents who have tried to do something. He said that Johnson said healthcare was like coffee and milk. That he never asked Ladybird how much she spent on coffee and milk because they just had to have them. He was talking about healthcare, but I'd say libraries should be looked at as a staple too.
Pissenlit--I agree! When I saw the original story about the libraries all being shut down I was floored--horrified actually.