I can no longer easily find a parking spot. My favorite chair is now usually occupied. “This item is not renewable because there is a waiting list” is the startling reply as I try to hold onto that book I haven’t yet read for a few more weeks. My territory has been invaded.
Thus I nodded my headed knowingly as I read Joseph Berger’s article in the New York Times that there has been a “surprising upside to the economic downturn.” What’s the good word? Yes, indeed, I already knew. “Libraries are booming.”
People are rediscovering the library in droves. They are borrowing books, CDs and DVDs. They are using the free internet service and attending the free weeknight programs. According to one librarian Berger quoted, the library is being used “as a gathering place for people who are intelligent and have similar values so they’re not as isolated.”
Can it be that there is actually a silver lining to this dismal economic situation? Of course the library budgets are being cut along with everything else. But will people actually start to appreciate the tremendous resource that is their local public library? Will new users now become aware of how important the library is to their community and possibly contribute to fundraising efforts when they can? If movies are too expensive will more parents take their kids to the library to find a good book or two?
Perhaps our libraries will finally be acknowledged in the public’s mind. Imagine everyone valuing them as much as those of us who love to read. I’d be thrilled to see it happen. As long as I get my chair back.