When’s the last time you went to your local library? Do you know what they can do for you?
Some years ago, I almost cried when I read about the possible closing of many of the Boston Public Library branches due to shortage of funding. Thank goodness it did not come to pass. Brian McGrory, one of my favorite Boston Globe writers, captured my feelings perfectly in his article, Treasure Islands at Risk .
After you read Brian’s article, do you still say to yourself, “Who cares?” Well, I care. Let me tell you why.
As someone who’s experienced my own funding shortage, I have and continue to use my local libraries for my pleasure reading and for work. I love the homey feel of each small library, the smell of polished wood and aging books, and the idiosyncracies of each employee, many of who became my friends over time. There’s nothing quite like having someone look up from what she is doing and smile when I come in the door, ask what she can do to help me—and it’s not home, where my wife Jean has to welcome me, and I’m not buying anything from her, either . . . well, except for the time we accidentally dumped the latest Stephen King into the washing machine and we had to pay for a replacement copy.
When I walk into the Emily Williston Library, I read the bulletin board, which tells me about the local CSA farm I can join to get my organic veggies, and the writers’ group that meets each week. I love to read the titles of books and flip through them (begone, Kindle, until I can no longer see the words!). Hard covers, soft covers, old ones falling apart, new ones that haven’t yet been opened. I can order a book online from any library in our system and have it appear in my own library, as if it flew there on a magic carpet, reserved just for me. I even go there to get help with research from human beings, if my Internet searches fail me.
I haven’t even mentioned all of the other things libraries offer: Wi-Fi, CDs, DVDs, museum passes, kids’ programs, meeting space. All free.
I’ve tried to show my thanks to each library for being there for me. I’ve given small donations to the Friends of each library, and gave up most of my own books to them to sell at their book sales to raise money. It’s not much, but it’s better than thinking about never having a library to go to.
© 2011, 2014 Fran Fahey