Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I like libraries. Libraries are cool

By Steve Weddle

First, since I was here last week, I've signed the deal with Tyrus Books for COUNTRY HARDBALL. Also, they've made a cover. And there's a page. And stuff. Here, lemme get out of the way for a second so you can click this link. COUNTRY HARDBALL

OK.

There seems to be a popular conception that, with each day that goes by, more and more people have more and more access to everything on the internet.

This seems goofy.

I live in the country. Not like in a William Faulkner story or anything, but I'm in the country. The town is 15 minutes away and has a population close to 1,000. We can drive 45 minutes to see a movie, if we want. We have access to the internet through one of those little boxes that we pay too much for. Other people don't. Other people near me use the county/state services to get a bus to come near them, then deposit them places in town. Then they have to rely on the bus to come get them.

Whenever people start to talk about how everyone has access to the internet now, I'm reminded of the opening to GATSBY in which the father tells Nick to remember that not everyone has the same advantages he's had.

My mom would drop me off at the library when I was a kid. I was in summer reading clubs every year. I read books. I checked out books. I read books from my parents' shelves. I talked to the librarians about books I wanted to read. I talked to my parents about books. We lived in a papermill town when the papermill shut down, when everything was dying, and I still had access to the world.

When I was growing, libraries were indispensable. They still are.

Not everyone can afford $100 a month for smartphones or internet boxes.

And I'd prefer to live in a world in which everyone -- even those who can't afford Verizon FIOS and $25 hardbacks -- are able to access the internet, the newspapers, and books. Books. Books.

Heck, I was 12 years old and I was reading John Updike. I had no idea what the hell was going on in any of his Rabbit books, but I was reading them. And I read non-fiction about the Boer War. That was some weird stuff, I'll tell you. And, of course, I read all the Harry Harrison and Piers Anthony I could find. All the librarians could find for me. And I read. And read. Just like so many kids did then, and like so many kids still do.

Books and DVDs and internet access and meeting rooms and book clubs and newspaper archives and on and on. I can't imagine a world without libraries. It's super cool that many of us -- especially those reading this -- can access the internet at a whim. But not everyone can. Not everyone has the same advantages you and I have had.

Rita Meade (@ScrewyDecimal) has a great post up knocking down the anti-library argument.

Do yourself a favor and give it a read.


2 comments:

Al Tucher said...

Good post about a good post. Let me add a couple of points.

At the Newark Public library, where I have worked since 1986, we ARE the internet access for many of the local citizens.

We have a tremendous amount of information that is not online, no matter what anyone says. Our New Jersey Information Center alone has thousands of unique items. And when I say unique, I'm often talking about the only typewritten copy in the world of an autobiography or local history.

I'm getting tired of the widespread conviction that ignorance makes one an expert on everything. No, ignorance is ignorance.

Elaine Ash said...

I am so thrilled for you, Steve. Can't wait to see when COUNTRY HARDBALL comes out.