Haves and have-nots

October 13, 2006 at 1:58 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wow it’s exciting when you finally remember how to log back into your blog.  Um, anyway…..a tidbit from Jessamyn West at librarian.net made me think today:

“The localness of libraries is their charm but also has the potential to be their undoing. I took a friend for a drive returning library books yesterday (five libraries!) and the difference between the little library in the poorer town and the little library in the bigger town was striking to her, whereas I’m more used to it. We’ve seen legislators and the Department of Education step in and deal with some of this inequality when it happens to schools, whats our large scale solution when we see this sort of thing happening to libraries?”

A very interesting idea.  I wonder if it speaks to how the public (including politicians) view the value of the library–public education is acknowledged to be essential and there are still multiple attempts underway to equalize schools.  Perhaps the library is viewed as more of a luxury, a place where you go for entertainment (or, heaven knows, porn) and therefore it doesn’t matter if libraries in poor communities have fewer resources?  Which is too bad, because the library should be viewed as an essential institution for lifelong learning, access to technology (Jessamyn’s example of a patron using the library’s internet connection to fill out a job application for Home Depot is a good one), etc.

Or, if I were paranoid, I could say that the powers that be give more support for public education because its purpose is to mold good little consumers/workers/citizens, and libraries are less popular because they are by nature inclined to be egalitarian, eccentric, and a source of new ideas, and therefore dangerous in that it does not contribute to turning us all into sheeple.  I’m not sure I’m that paranoid but, hey, it provides fodder for any librarians who want to develop a martyr complex!

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