October 31, 2011

Librarians Fighting Back Against Big Budget Cuts

When I was very young, shortly after my father died, I remember my mother instituting a Friday night ritual.  She would pick me up after school, and we would go to the local branch of the public library.  I could check out as many books as I wanted! She would, too.  We would each roam the stacks, selecting carefully.  We might sit in the big chairs, too, and read awhile.  Afterwards, we would go Out To Eat.  Usually, to a small Mom and Pop Chinese Food Place that I still remember as being so exotic with its red and gold dragons and silk kimono wall hangings.  I could drink hot tea out of a little ceramic bowl, and I could bring one book into the restaurant with me.  Such a decision.

That little branch library was such a special place for me.  I was 7 years old, in a new city and a new school and with a mother who wasn't dealing all that well at all with the loss of her husband.  Books.  Books are one thing.  They are friends, sometimes lifelong companions.  Teachers, too.  But libraries.  Libraries are sanctuaries, treasure caves, shrines.  Libraries are important.  Important at all times, but especially these days.

I follow the news about budget cuts to public libraries with dread and fear and that small girl in me is afraid for her library.  For the libraries beloved by other folk, in other parts of the country.  What will happen?  Consider this: in Texas this summer, funding to state libraries was cut by 88% (yes, eighty-eight percent; that's no typo). 

So, it's very nice to learn about Librarians Fighting Back -- like those this week up in Chicago, where they not only signed a petition against budget cuts, but they also had a "Story Time" down at City Hall, where the librarians read books to the kids, right there on the threshold of the Mayor's Office.  Cool stuff.

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