Support Your Local Library

I went to our local public library today. Actu­ally the entire family went to the library. My wife and I signed up for member­ship mainly so that my sons could start borrowing books to read. Jamie is a vora­cious reader even by my stan­dards and there’s no way I could keep him in new books without going broke.


It’s been years since I was a library member. As a child I was a regular visitor to the library and it was that as much as anything else that fed my love of fantasy and science fiction. But as an teenager and then adult I moved to buying my own books, and more recently I started converting my book collec­tion to ebooks (it’s just so nice to have all those books with me on my phone).

There are good reasons to encourage the purchase of books, partic­u­larly in the USA where the library system doesn’t pay royal­ties on number of check outs of a book. But I think that libraries are the second most effec­tive method of instilling a love of reading in chil­dren. The most effec­tive is simply having books every­where in your house.

It was inter­esting to go into this library. In many ways it was just like the library I frequented as a child. And that’s not a bad thing. Despite incred­ible funding pres­sure, the public library is a hold out against the rampant consumerism of almost any other building you go into.

Beyond the surface famil­iarity though there are changes going on. Libraries are redefining them­selves slowly. Their job now is not purely to provide access to books. It’s to provide access to infor­ma­tion. There were several computers avail­able for use; audio books, maga­zines and DVDs could be rented. The format is no longer the point. And while this library hasn’t jumped aboard yet, some libraries are already exper­i­menting with e-book lending.

Even though I’m in a posi­tion where I can buy books pretty much when­ever I wish and I think it’s impor­tant to do so to support less popular authors, I’ve been reminded how impor­tant it is to also support the library system.  And by support I don’t just mean mone­tary, although that is much needed, but also to ensure that their ability to lend books is not eroded by greedy companies.

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