Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ben Franklin Rests In Peace Again

Well, I say he is. I'd been following on various blogs and websites the travesty of Philadelphia's libraries being threatened with closure. The day of doom was to have been Oct. 2.

Public libraries closing? In Philadelphia? Where Ben Franklin, the first person to open a lending library, lived?

I'd thought it was bad enough that my own library had begun closing at 2 p.m. on Saturdays. But to not have a library at all? Yikes.

I credit public and school libraries for helping feed my voracious reading habit. As a relatively poor kid, I found my reading pace outstripping my wallet's ability to pay for books. The library is where I find new authors and try them out before I put them on my auto-buy list. When I need to research something, I go to my library. It's where I find the audio-books that I must have if I'm going to drive any distance at all.

The best part about public libraries is their egalitarian spirit. Anyone with a library card can check out a book -- any book they like. And mid-list authors' books cozy up to the volumes of best-sellers with no threat of returns to publishers.

Libraries aren't just another line item in a budget, to be slashed in hard economic times, even if some elected officials seem to think so. I'm glad to know that Philadelphia's bibliophiles fought back and won -- and the libraries in the city continue to be open to the public.


BillRicksofSoperton said...

Libraries must be rescued. Until computers and high-speed internet are accessible to everybody - rich or poor - we will need libraries. I hope that libraries will continue to function for education and socialization. I could see coffee and vending machines in public libraries. Georgia's Pines system is outstanding. Free computer availability, free access to Ancestry.com, books, audio and video, microfilm, all advance America.

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