Public access to books is a fundamental necessity for the advancement of societies. Whether paid for with money or borrowed with citizenship (and that’s what public libraries are, really. We gain access to libraries by being citizens of that community). Am I an expert on this? Not by any means. But when we block access to knowledge to the people who seek such knowledge, we are by default altering our course. Who knows what one person might learn in a book that might open the doors to new inventions, businesses, processes?
“Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.” – Anne Herbert
What does that quote mean to you? To me, it means that no amount of money in the world can make up for lack of access to knowledge. And yes, I include fictional reading as knowledge. Because in my opinion, fiction is what inspires exploration of imagination. And where would we be if all the inventors of the world had no imagination?
Will my blog alter the course we as a society have been walking? Not even close. But I have to speak what I think about these things. Because I am so afraid that learning, reading, simple enjoyment of a good book – for the cost of an annual property tax bill – will soon be unavailable to us. Not everyone in the US can afford an e-reader. Not everyone in the US has consistently working electricity. Not everyone in the US has access to a public library. While I am a strong advocate of public libraries, I also understand how important bookstores are to our communities. This is a sad testament to what we as a society are doing to our country.
And while this article is written with a strong politically left leaning, if you take the politics and finger pointing out of it and just read the pure words describing what has been happening, I hope you’ll see past your own political views and understand. This isn’t a political issue. It’s a community issue. It’s a social issue. Every single person in this country has had access to books for as long as I can remember and now that access is being taken away. We can insulate ourselves all we want but the simple truth is that without access to knowledge, we are lost.