Listen closely….because I’m about to let you in on a little secret. What would you say if I told you that there was a building just down the street from where you live that offers you books, magazines, movies, music, and access to the internet for absolutely free? “Ludicrous!” you might proclaim. ” Absolutely preposterous!” Well my friend, prepare yourself to be amazed, because such a place does exist and is not just a figment of your wildest dreams or imagination. It’s called….The Library!!
Obviously the story of the library is nothing new, but I think many of us often forget the important role that the library can play in our daily lives. Not only does the library offer everyone free access to its materials (which probably saves me at least $1500 a year), it also encourages continued learning, intellectual growth, and offers a space for its community to socialize and gather together. From story times for toddlers to computer classes for seniors and everything in between, the services and programs available in your local library are endless!
Unfortunately, due to the current economy, many public libraries are beginning to face downsizing and budget cuts. Of course, like any government institution the library should be expected to buckle down during times of financial strife, but these cuts are often difficult to make. After all, did you know that library use actually grows significantly during times of economic downturn? Just think of how challenging it can be for libraries to provide for this increased demand from users when they no longer have access to their full budgets!
This is exactly what happened to the public library system in Troy, Michigan. Facing a huge budget shortfall last year, the city gave its residents the option to either close the library for good or approve a small tax increase of 0.7%. As I’m sure you can imagine, the very suggestion of a tax increase caused many of Troy’s citizens to take a very anti-library stance. In order to turn public voting in its favour, the library came up with a pretty radical marketing campaign that actually made international headlines. Check out this amazing video below to find out just how the library managed to sway public voting in its favour!
While its sad to hear about library budget cuts and closures, its stories like these about Troy, Michigan that give me hope. Its amazing to see just how passionate people can become when you threaten the destruction of books and knowledge! I guess the main thing I wanted to get across in this posting is that libraries play an important part in every community, and should be more fully appreciated for the imagination, creativity, and learning that they encourage. In closing, I’ll leave you with this letter from author Isaac Asimov that was sent to the Troy Public Library upon its opening in 1971. It pretty much sums up just how amazing libraries are!