Wednesday, April 11, 2018

My Library and Me

geralt via Pixabay
Last week, I paid a long overdue visit to my local library. We'd sorted the books on our bookshelves at home and I had a substantial stack of books to donate. In addition, my library card needed to be renewed.

On the counter at the circulation desk, there was a stack of post cards. Our local commissioners have cut $300,000 in funding to the library system and the pre-addressed post cards were there for patrons to who wanted to let those in charge know that libraries matter.

Let that sink in for a minute. We need to tell our elected officials that libraries matter. Isn't this something they should know already?

Sure, the Internet has taken over life as we know it, and libraries have worked to keep pace with that (which costs money, by the way). But books in some format will always be part of our culture, and lack of access to them has an enormous impact on the knowledge and well-being of a culture.

As I perused the shelves looking for something to read, I was reminded of so many wonderful impacts my library has had on my life. My daughter chose that library for our bi-weekly (or more often) visits every summer from the time she was three until long after she could work the online reserve system herself. I held book signings for both Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance at that library. A nonfiction book I picked up one summer (The Happiness Project) impacted me so much that I added it to the reading list for the first year seminar I teach. Close to 75 freshmen have read this book in my class and created happiness projects of their own. That same book was one of the things that inspired me to look more deeply into the field of positive psychology, to earn a certificate in positive psychology and to create and teach a course on positive psychology.

A novel I picked up on another visit ended up being the nudge I needed to write for adults, pointing the way to the genre I wanted to write in and sparking the creation of Marita, Charli, Angel, Bets and, of course, Jim. The novel I couldn't find earlier this week (because it doesn't exist) gave me the idea for my next novel, or at least its protagonist.

In short (I know -- too late), the ripple effect my library has inspired is pretty impressive for a tiny community library.

I have a vested interest in keeping my library up and running and, if you live in York County, I hope you do, too. Throughout the month of April, York County Libraries will have post cards at their circulation desks. They're pre-addressed, and the librarians will even give you a stamp if you want one. These post cards implore those in charge to consider the impact a $300,000 funding cut will have and to restore the funding.

I'm not letting my library go down without a fight, and if you live in my area, I hope you won't either.
Meanwhile, no matter where you live, make it a point to show your library a little love and maybe even find out what they do (besides checking out books) and why they matter.

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