Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday Words: Libraries Live

There are a few questions that are pretty much inevitable when I tell people that I go to "library school" and that I work in a high school library. First of all, there's "library school? Is that real?" Secondly, there's usually something along the line of "Do we really use or need libraries anymore since more people turn to the internet than to books for information?"

The answer to both of these questions is incredibly clear in my mind. YES!

Library school, is, in my humble opinion, heaven on earth. I sort of stumbled into it by accident (a long story that I will save for another day), but I'm so incredibly happy that I did. But the second question is one that affects each and every person in this country because despite what you may be reading on the internet or in newspapers about budgets being slashed and libraries across the country and around the world being closed, they absolutely are still relevant and matter more than ever before.

I say this and plenty of people simply nod their heads and smile, thinking I'm just some poor girl clinging to an idea because I don't want to admit that an English degree and now a library degree are crazy avenues of education. But they couldn't be more wrong. A library is a living organism - it has an incredible capacity to adapt and change and grow and it is stocked not only with books full of information, but also with people full of skills. (This is often another question I frequently get asked - "You really need a master's degree to be a librarian?" Yes!)

So people don't use books quite as much as they used to for research. Okay. I understand that. But that doesn't mean the books on the shelf are any less useful, and in the meantime, there are countless online or other electronic resources that libraries may pay to subscribe to, eating the cost so patrons may use them for free and find what they're looking for. Internet, movies, music, and of course the traditional books - these are things you pay for with your tax dollars and if you take advantage of what your local or school library has available, trust me from both a patron and professional point of view when I say that you can get more than your money's worth.

This week I got my local public library's bi-monthly newsletter, and on the first page the title proudly declares that they are celebrating "half a century of service." When the library here first opened, it was 1962 - Kennedy was president, gas cost 32 cents a gallon, and The Beatles hadn't even come to America yet. Fifty amazing years later, it continues to stand and thanks to the ability of many dedicated librarians, staff members, and passionate community members, it serves as a fantastic example for me to resort to. Libraries are national treasures, and I encourage you to take advantage of yours.

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