A Discussion on Libraries

David Trammel's picture

CNN posted a link to an article about the fact American's visited libraries more than most other activities, including movies, live sports and concerts on their Facebook page. Its at 1200 comments at the moment.

More Americans went to the library last year than to the movies, a new Gallup poll finds

Given the discussions on Ecosophia on the state of libraries last year, I found some of the comments very interesting for a different prospective.

Libraries are not a mausoleum for old books! They are community centers, and they offer a myriad of goods and services. JMG turned up his nose at those services and suggested that we go back to subscription libraries. Nothing wrong with subscription libraries, and that may be where we end up again in The Long Descent, but subscription libraries are community centers also--for select communities. "For people of means." Historically libraries have gone from private collections belonging to foundations like churches and monasteries and from wealthy individuals who could afford books to collections of like-minded individuals who were interested in certain fields like science and philosophy, religion, history, or "fine literature."

And there is really nothing wrong with that kind of library. A maker's group could have an extensive collection of how-to books or a gardening group could have an in-depth collection on horticulture. And Ladies of the Club... is a historical novel about a group of educated, upper-class group of women in a small town who organize a book club. Over 50 or 60 years, it goes from a dozen or so society women and teachers to a subscription library to a public library. (It's on our canon list.)

My public library system does a whole lot more. You can get help with your tax returns. You can reserve a large or a small meeting room. One of our local coal fired power plants is closing and the owners have agreed to an $8m settlement for cleaning up the contaminated site, and for three days this week groups are presenting their plans for that cleanup in the auditorium of our main branch. While folks are there for the presentations, they can also enjoy annual art exibit of works done by local Veterans. One day I was in the library and ran into a friend of mine who was looking for a copy of "Moonlight Sonata" for her husband's memorial service. I took her upstairs to the computer room, we got on the computer and Googled "Moonlight Sonata." The CD she'd found was not the CD she wanted. We logged into the library catalog and found three CDs that would work for her including one in the children's department. I think she took them all.

You can exercise: the small library near me is next to a playground. There is a trail around the pocket park with stations set up with copies of a children's book. Families can walk the trail from one station to the next, reading the next pages of the book. They have movies there a couple times a week. and craft projects for kids. They did a repair day there last October. I was scheduled to get my vaccuum cleaner checked out but real life intervened.

There is a live concert every month in the newest library. They serve a large Indian community, and patrons can check out Bollywood DVDs. Another branch is next to a community theater, and a couple times a year there are previews of a musical for the kids and a chance to win tickets to a performance.

And yes every year there is a Peoria Reads program. One city, one book. Many conversations.. Some titles about race relations, one about Vietnam veterans, one about the opioid crisis, one about guns and crime.

David Trammel's picture

Thanks for the update Sophie.

The branch near me under went a big upgrade recently. I've been in it and its different. The book stacks are all low but its sunny and airy with lots of people. I agree libraries can serve as a community center and focus of coming together. Maybe I need to see what it would take to have a Green Wizard style lecture there some evening.