Here is a thoughtful piece from David Harsanyi entitled “Libraries Are Failing America” at The Federalist web site. If you haven’t yet, you really should subscribe to The Federalist’s Daily Briefing for more thought provoking articles like this.
Instead of catering to the comsumerist whims of the population, shouldn’t a library be a stronghold of knowledge and a source of education? The point Mr. Harsanyi makes concerning the affluent are using libraries to avoid paying rental fees for movies and not to purchase copies of popular literature is sound. Remember the days, when you took yourself and your notes to the library to do research for a school paper or project. These days most students will access the Internet first for their information. A paper based on Wikipedia–isn’t that the way many today do it?
Let’s be honest–when is the last time you went to your local library to do some actual research? If you go (and most of us don’t) these days, isn’t it to get a copy of the latest bestseller or a free copy of some movie? Is that the actual purpose of a library? I think not.
When I was a child, I would go to the library every two weeks to get a new stack of books of all types so that I could soak up knowledge. In many ways, I thought I did a pretty good job of educating myself during the summer months reading about 8 to 10 books every two weeks. My language skills improved, my spelling became much sharper, and my ability to spell and use grammar properly increased proportionately. Renting a copy of “The Hunger Games” today may entertain me but my abilities are otherwise not enhanced.
Give this topic some thought as I believe we need to rethink what our libraries are for in the 21st century. At least you might consider going for a better reason.