Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why Libraries Must Never Close

The wonderful Tigard library, near Portland, Oregon
As a first round panelist for the Cybils (and have you made your nominations yet?!) I need to read dozens of books. And the only way I can afford that, unless I want to suddenly start busking at street corners with a sign reading "Will Sing for Books," is to make friends with my local librarians.
I went into the Tigard library on Monday, armed with a list of Cybils nominees. An hour later, I'd pulled over 50 books from their well-stocked shelves. Thank God for libraries!!
This particular library has it all. Not just books, but programs for teens and space for book clubs. It even has a donut shop on the premises!!

Books and baked goods--what could be better?

I wonder what the future holds for libraries, though. Will they still be around when printed books have gone the way of the dinosaur and we all have e-readers embedded in our craniums?
Tell me about your local library. Does it have funding pressures? Donuts? What do you think the future will bring for these wonderful institutions?


  1. It's funny--I think of the library as something much more for my children (our local town library has a great children's room, and my kids go there every week). When I want a book, on the other hand ... yeah. I download it onto my ereader in about 10 seconds flat. Now that libraries are starting e-lending programs, I hope that helps ease some of the tension between those two activities!

    Happy reading, Michael!

  2. I think one of the problems we have with local libraries over here is the fact that they won't tolerate the idea of 'donut shops' (or anything similar) on the premises.
    Perhaps if people could get a cuppa and a bun they'd be more inclined to go.

  3. The library around here is pretty lame. It makes me miss the downtown Seattle Library. Or even the old one up on Queen Anne Hill.

  4. Apologies for ripping this from a very old diary entry of mine but the sentiment is still the same.

    'Today probably owes a lot to my teenage years spent in the reference section of Portsmouth central library. Before they moved to the new building the reference section had its own room bathed in a yellow light and enshrouded in an intellectual smog. Stillness was what I remember from that room. I spent every Saturday there trawling through every book they had on astronomy, writing down by hand large sections of the books, (the reference books were not allowed to be loaned out), for my own book, an encyclopedia of astronomy (which is yet to see the light of day). I used the opportunity to look through some anatomy books, particularly on women's composition. Whilst the latter may have added little to my intellectual development it may be that the former, whilst giving me a interest in acquiring knowledge for no other reason than the fun of doing so - and it is fun - also gave me confidence in being able to find solutions to problems that led to me starting my own companies; solutions are out there and if you know how to find them and have just enough nous to apply them to the problem, you have product which you can sell.

    So when the reference section of the library was closed and they opened a new library in a new building and the reference books were spread amongst the other books and even available for loan so they were never there when you wanted them and then, god forbid, they installed computers and loaned CDs it all started going downhill. And now, according to this report, libraries need chatter and coffee shops. No they don't - that's a coffee shop. Libraries are places for people to read books. If people are not going to libraries to read books then turning the library into something else means it is not a library anymore. Why a coffee shop, why not a cinema or a sex shop where they can loan out dildos to go with the latest Mills and Boon corset ripper. More dumbing down. Less children reading, less they use their imagination instead preferring to be spoon fed information, the less they have opportunities to explore those side alleys of knowledge which just might ignite a spark in the child - as my reading on synchrotron radiation could lead to me reading about the details of woman's vulva. More teenagers with no aspiration or drive or curiosity, youths aimlessly hanging out at bus shelters and leading to new generation of people that don't know which way round a baseball cap should be worn. A generation that thinks Bush or Sarah Palin is a credible option for President of the US. Where will it stop?'


  6. The idea of libraries closing breaks my heart, but it is happening. They don't receive enough funding. Interesting, since one observation I've made is that when our local library is open (not as many days/hours as in the past, sadly) it is PACKED. There is no shortage of people who make use of the library. One has to wonder why these marvelous places are treated so poorly when it comes time for county budgeting.

  7. golly, Dan tell us how you really feel...
    but I have to admit you were and are a wise one
    I hate noisy libraries
    but I love libraries

  8. I hope books are always around and I hope libraries are around. We need them both.

  9. If you don't have a library, are you going to risk the "random shelf grab"? These grabs are where I have found wonderful nuggets that otherwise would never have caught my attention. From the library I can try them risk-free (the only loss is time if they are no good).

    The joy of wandering the stacks with no purpose is irreplacable.


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