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October 23, 2017

9/20/2017 2:03:00 PM
Musings - on the editor's mind
Ken Stern

Here’s a rhetorical question: In this day and age, what do we need libraries for? Won’t it be cheaper to buy everyone a smart phone and leave them to their own devices?
Cheaper, yes. Smarter, no.
In the old days, I went to the library to get books, find magazines from decades past, use reference materials that could not be checked out, type on typewriters, and make copies. Then, a physical footprint was absolutely necessary, a building needed to store the wisdom of the ages, be a place offering refugee to slick lawyer and humble homeless person alike.
Same today.
Libraries are portals, with savvy librarians offering navi-gation assistance to anyone that asks. Libraries have free WiFi and are safe and dry, whether while waiting for mom to pick you up or for staying out of the rain. Libraries offer places to meet, whether you want to have a tea party or organize a third party. Some of them have telescopes for use. Most of them have kids reading circles. Almost all of them organize and support book clubs.
So it is wrong to say that everyone carries a library in their pocket or has one on their desk. A library is different: it is staffed, the community – you and your neighbors – paid for it, your tax dollars at work – you can meet friends there, you can go to a library to be by yourself.
Libraries are a statement that the community cares about you, that we want to give everyone the opportunity to choose whatever it is they want.
Libraries are evidence that we believe in every person, that we trust them, each other, that we support each person’s dreams, growth, and hopes. Or, that we want everyone to have a place of refuge, to chill, to nap, to plot a path out of town.
Freedom. Exploration. The unknown. Sharing. A safe place. Escape. A portal out, a window into the interior life.

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