Monday, March 29, 2010

At The Lie Berry

What is more important in a library than anything else - is the fact that it exists.

Archibald MacLeish
(Thank you Bruce)
One block down the street from me is the public library. As libraries go it isn't very big. It's one floor of a small building but it's chock full of books, magazines, newspapers, CDs, DVDs, computers and kids. I can look out my window of an afternoon and see a parade of children on their way to the library and feel a quiet sense of pride that I live in a country where education is available to the young. Opening up the minds of youngsters to the knowledge and wisdom of the world, even if it sometimes means the loss of some degree of innocence, is a precious endeavor and so preferable to some places in the world where education is a luxury, denied to many, and in some cases even punished.

I also feel a bit of satisfaction that I live in a state, Pennsylvania, which determinately provides its students with the right to an open minded approach to learning. It is sad to say that there are some places in this country where that open mindedness is not so graciously provided. Unless all points of view are available to people, of whatever age, there is no freedom of thought, instruction is doctrinaire and education suffers. If the Board of Education in Texas or any other state rewrites its textbooks to conform to a limited and specialized point of view, no one will benefit but the bigots and the children will be deprived.

The purpose of education is to allow people to think for themselves not to teach them what to think. In this local library there are separate rooms where workshops are conducted in all sorts of cultural and educational programs with enthusiastic students under the guidance of adults who care and donate their time. In one of the rooms there is an art exhibit of works by local artists. I have 2 pictures hanging in there. It is open all the time the library is. Anyone can go in and look at the pieces, including the children. No one is telling them what they can or cannot see.

Every time I go in there and need help with something, the librarians are always polite and ready to help me as they are with everyone.

Due to fiscal problems across the land many libraries are cutting back in hours or closing altogether. The demise of the public library is one of the greatest potential dangers to our nation. The ruination would not be seen for years to come but it would be devastating. I may never be exposed to more than .05% or less of what is in my library but imagine what life would be like if all that information was not available to me or to the children who walk down my street.

DB - The Vagabond
Weekend Contest
This contest is open for the next 7 days.
3 entries so far.

Choose as many numbers as you want and fill in the blanks
Winners will be posted on the evening of April 4.
The decisions of the nasty biased judge are final. Prizes will awarded on the basis of originality and whatever makes me laugh.

On the first day of April my true love gave to me

Good luck


Judith Ellis said...

I LOVE libraries! Thank you for this tribute to them. It remains us of their importance. Why the title, though?

Valerie said...

I spent many happy days as a child in a public library. You know, Judith asks why the title. I know two people who say "libary", without the "r", and they are intelligent. It drives me crazy. Is it a Pennsylvania thing? A lazy thing? I am working on my 12 Days of April =). Have a nice day, DB!! Love, Val xox

Big Mark 243 said...

The tragedy of the Texas Board of Education lies in its influence NATIONALLY. Because they buy so many books, manufacturers tend to shape all their books to their demands.

You are very right that it is the loss of opinions that will hurt the younger generations. With all the slashing of funding and closing of libraries, it will eventually hurt future generations.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Excellent point about teaching people how to think versus what to think. Our county library system is very strong with three new branches built in the last couple years.

Gerry said...

I am hoping the cutting of hours is temporary due to a budget squeeze. Our huge public library is just up the street from me within walking distance. Artists are given a space for displays that last a month of their work as you enter. There are five floors. Libraries have always been a lifeline for me. I am so glad you are close enough to one to get there. Our library is actually a refuge for the homeless, many of whom head there as soon as it opens where they can read in inclement weather and even use the computers and go on line. The hours to the main branch are not being cut hardly at all, but some of the branch libraries are which isn't bad. Your title must be to intrigue. I really don't think the ignorant ones will prevail. Libraries are too big of a tradition in this country for us ever to go back to the dark ages of none. And book burnings so to speak. I am reading "The Lacuna" right now by Barbara Kingsolver, a best seller I could never afford to buy, but which can be enjoyed by anybody willing to respect a library card. It is set in Mexico and features the artist Diego Riviera and Frieda Kahlo his striking painter wife. I loved the movie and the bios about her, so am looking forward to this novel by the author of "Poisonwood Bible," one of my favorite novels. It is set in the southwest which I especially love since I live here! I was just thinking we need more people to appreciate the privilege of reading books! And more people to actually read them! I always love and relate to an appreciator of books.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I too love and appreciate all our public libraries do. They are a wealth of information and services. I hope that we never get to the point where they no longer receive community support. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment on my blog today.

krissy knox said...

Beautiful piece, DB. Just beautiful. Wondering what you think, however. When I was a child and teenager I went to the library constantly. Now as an adult I use the internet. Have I lost anything. I know I can still read the classics at the library, but it seems so many of the other books are so outdated in their information. Am I wrong? Please respond, either here or in a post, or email me. Thanks, my friend. :D

Lori said...

DB, you could have stopped with the quote at the beginning, and I would have been happy. Great quote! But your entry is wonderful. I LOVE libraries, too. When I was growing up it was my very favorite place to go, and not a week went by that my sisters and I weren't at our local library exchanging one armload of books for another. We always checked out our limit and read them all in that one week between visits. Wish I had time to read like that now! There is still magic in libraries. When we visit other cities my daughter and I like to seek out the local library and check it out, even if we can't check out the books.