Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Love Your Library

This is National Library Week, an annual celebration of reading and libraries that began in 1958. It would have been difficult to imagine, in the 1950s, what we can find and do in the libraries of today.

Online catalogs and reservation systems, internet enabled computers for research, and entire sections set aside for CDs and DVDs would have been totally unimaginable even 20 years ago. But two key elements of libraries remain unchanged -- books, the kind with covers and pages, and librarians, who now must be skilled with computers and technology, as well as books and other research materials.

A recent Wall Street Journal article looked at the pressures that libraries are under in these still difficult economic times, as they become resources for job hunting and even just a place to go to when you are out of work. Libraries are an equalizing force, letting everyone share in the joys of literature -- often in their own native languages. They are a place to read, to think, to imagine, to do homework, to read the newspaper --  all open to the entire community.

We have applauded new technologies that make reading accessible to individuals who struggle with printed words on paper, and we know many individuals who have been won over by reading devices such as the Kindle. But there is still a joy that comes with opening the pages of a book and entering into a world that you can carry with you as you explore its story. And libraries make this world -- as well as research, technology, and entertainment -- available to all, at no cost. Let's not take them for granted.

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