Monday, July 21, 2014

Response to "Close the Libraries"

In response to this article:  I wrote:

Libraries are about information. I'm an American librarian who works in Texas. Daily, we teach individuals how to use computers, software, tablets and yes, even smartphones and Kindles! As librarians (and media specialists as they're called in our schools), we engage daily in bibliographic instruction that includes the use of technology to access library information--but our instruction is not limited to that. Unlike teachers and peers, librarians are specifically trained to manage information and to find information of all kinds efficiently. Librarians are the most qualified professionals to evaluate information sources and teach how to effectively use the massive amounts of information we have.

Librarians are actively engaged in teaching literacy: several different kinds of literacy actually. We provide traditional literacy activities (storytime, book clubs, language learning, etc). We provide civic literacy--teaching individuals the skills they need to pass the citizenship exam or programs for teens that bring them into contact with the government (Teen Advisory Boards). We also provide technological and practical literacy. People learn to use computers, how to build a web-page or even how to code an original video game. Individuals who visit the library are able to access and learn how to resources such as circuitry, video editing, 3D scanners and printers. Programs vary from library to library, but all libraries attempt to engage our visitors with a sense of wonder and then give them the tools to work with the awesome technology that is available today.

Cutting costs is what you're addressing in this article. However, the cost of cutting access to literacy building (tech and traditional) is priceless. A society without skills is a society that cannot be productive or creative. Literacy is important, as Dale Carnegie -- a capitalist's Capitalist knew! Librarians are about books and the literacy skills all people need to know in order to function as productive, creative and vital citizens.

Oh... and as an aside, I have no problems with free markets. I want people to use bookstores and buy books from Amazon. Heck, I do! Interestingly enough, people who buy books are often the biggest patrons of libraries!