Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Platform continued

By Cheri Chesley

This is a continuation of last week's POST, in case you missed it. Here's where the heart pouring really comes into play.

The public library. For so long, the only real source of books for many people. But, it also became a haven for some. I was one of those.

Growing up, I had it kinda rough. (who didn't?) The truth is, home was not a safe place for me or my friends. And they lived too far away to visit. But, being young, my options were limited. So I started walking. I'd walk within a 1.5 mile radius of my house in any given direction. Sometimes I had a little money, and I'd go to the store, or to the local fast food place, and kill time. But one of my favorite places to go was my local public library, specifically the Acacia Branch of the Phoenix Public Library system.

It took me about 15 min to walk there. And, nearly every afternoon, there was an old man sitting in the chair by the door with his nose in a book. I never stopped to wonder what he read. I wanted to get to my books. I can still remember how it smelled, the old card catalog, the shelves I would frequent for my old favorites. I can even remember the distinct sound of library silence.

I loved that place. Being able to go there saved me in so many ways. It's one of the things that kept me on my writing (and reading) path. I want it to stand forever for the people who come who were like I was then.

And there is the platform. The public library. In the digital age, where everything we need to research can be found on the internet, and we can buy books with just the click of a mouse, how long do you think the public library will last? I know in recent years they've had a remarkable drop in visitation. If it wasn't for the computers most libraries installed to provide internet access, many may have closed already.

I worry about this. I want to do something about it. Call it a passion.


Michael Knudsen said...

I'm a library fanatic. My family checks out an average of 60 items monthly from the Salt Lake County System (for which we pay $60/year in taxes for, so why not?) The technology has kept us as patrons, with online holds and automated check in/out. It will be a disappointment if physical libraries eventually disappear, but we'll roll with it as always.

Nicole said...

Our small town library has experienced an upsurge in usage since the economic downturn that has been quite severe here in Oregon. They are also real good about ordering (purchasing) any book you may want. I don’t see libraries going away anytime soon, as long as they adapt to the new technologies. I would love to be able to “check out” for free (taxes excluded) e-books.