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April 17, 2015 7:30 AM   Subscribe

The Real Purpose of Libraries, by Ferguson Library Director Scott Bonner (SLReading Rainbow)
posted by box (6 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
This comes up every few years here. I say that not to dismiss this or call it a double, but to say how important it is that smart, eloquent people keep beating that drum loud and often. Libraries are a cornerstone of a just, democratic and civilized society; if we pull that block out, the whole structure will start to come apart.

To contrast Director Bonner's big-picture argument, there's never a bad time to link back to codacorolla's fantastic 2012 comment reminding us about the boots-on-the-ground, day-to-day grind of the librarians in the trenches of modern class warfare.
posted by mhoye at 8:23 AM on April 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


"For a community to grow and improve, it has to have a means to come together, someplace safe and welcoming, where no one is trying to sell you something..."

This is a very important point that's often overlooked. Great article!
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:10 AM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thank you box for this post and mhoye for pointing me to codacorolla's comment, which I had never seen.

I have a friend who works in a public library. She has told me many stories of the marginalized people (homeless, or living in unsafe housing, or just very poor, or children who are dropped off at the library as a form of childcare) who come to her branch every day. I don't really know where these folks would go if it weren't for the public library--well, someplace a lot less safe and welcoming.

Codacorolla's comment was all too familiar--part of what I do, though not part of my job description, is help adults navigate their way through reams of paperwork that they struggle with but desperately need to complete in order for some major aspect of their life to function: disability applications, funding applications, benefits paperwork. I am pretty darned literate and I deal with reading high level stuff all the time, and some of the paperwork my students are expected to understand and complete correctly makes me feel anxious to look at. And nevermind the digital divide many of them are dealing with. I am still astounded (why, I don't know) at the number of systems developed to "help" people who are poor and living very precariously that require access to things they just don't have--like a computer with up to date software, access to the internet, and a fair amount of computer literacy. I can only surmise they a) don't care or b) hope to put up barriers that mean fewer people will actually access that help. In the meanwhile, those of us who do care and are in a position to do it, do our best to help out, all the while waiting for our own jobs to get cut.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:16 AM on April 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


Eventually our civilization will collapse. And libraries, archives, everything will be lost. But there will still be librarians, thank God.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:18 AM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


The public library saved my ass in the late 90's, when I was unemployed and so anxious that I was on the verge of being non-functional. It was a safe place that relaxed me and made me feel like myself again, where I could look for work, accesss e-mail, and find healthy forms of diversion if I wasn't up to attempting job searching.
posted by thelonius at 11:31 AM on April 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Aw, Scott Bonner's great. :)
posted by limeonaire at 12:33 PM on April 17, 2015


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