Storyteller John Weaver is a parent, performer and early childhood professional based in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. In addition to ongoing programs for the Livermore & Menlo Park Libraries, John performs at schools, recreation centers, libraries, bookstores, festivals, family attractions, conferences, parent education seminars, camp-outs, & “read-ins.” Visit John's website at www.storytellerjohnweaver.com, & e-mail John at firstname.lastname@example.org
I love this editorial by Ryan Miller, the Executive Editor of the San Luis Obispo New Times. With all the possible issues--both local & international--he could have targeted for his weekly chunk of the newspaper, he decided to remind people that libraries exist; they exist for all of us, and that they are beautiful.
Please read this inspiring piece of writing, and pass it along-- and then take a friend or two on a joy ride to the local library.
The following article was posted on June 7th, 2012, in the New Times - Volume 26, Issue 45
On the books
Support your local library--and yourself, while you're at it
Go to the library.
That’s basically everything I set out to say to you today.
It’s simple, really. Just go to the library.
I don’t think I should have to make a case for
why this is such a vitally important action for you to take, why an
ongoing commitment to literacy, education, and access to knowledge is an
excellent use of your time. I do, however, have more space to fill, so I
might as well say a few words on the subject, because there are
probably a few of you thinking, “Wait, what? Libraries? Those musty
things are still around?”
they are very much still around, and they do more than you probably
think. Various branches in our local Black Gold system offer the
expected books and periodicals, as well as CDs (books and music) to fill your commutes with something other than talk radio, DVDs, and even video games. So if Gone With the Wind just isn’t your thing, you can check out Lego Indiana Jones for the Wii.
There are events for kids, computers for anyone
to access, and resources available to people looking to better their
lives. There are even actual, live, real, sentient human beings eager to
help you find what you’re looking for.
And we want those humans to stick around. Like
many institutions, libraries have faced their share of funding
challenges in recent years. Their survival—even their ability to
thrive—is our collective responsibility and benefit. The “State of
American’s Libraries Report 2012,” referencing economic turmoil and grim
headlines from the previous year, notes: “What became clear through it
all was that amid the shifting winds of an economic storm, libraries
continue to transform lives, adapting to and adopting new and emerging
technologies, and experimenting with innovative and transformational
ideas to provide services that empower patrons.”
In a summary in its report, the American Library
Association noted good and bad, including a push to reach more
underserved populations; funding cuts; challenges to lending ebooks,
imposed by major publishers; and an uptick in libraries’ use of social
In this way, libraries sort of represent us all.
Collectively, we’re muddling through the ups and downs of a system
struggling to get back onto a comfortable track. In the report, ALA
President Molly Raphael said, “[P]ublic libraries are also serving as a
lifeline for people trying to adapt to challenging economic
circumstances, providing technology training and online resources for
employment, access to government resources, continuing education,
retooling for new careers, and starting a small business.” She later
pledged to vigorously defend intellectual freedom, a right to privacy,
and open access to information.
What’s not to love about all that?
Friends occasionally blink in confusion when they
hear that I picked up at the library that book I just read or movie I
just saw; I realize their neurons are poking around some dusty,
long-neglected pathways: “Oh yeah! Libraries!” It’s like suddenly
remembering that carrots exist.
Actually, it’s probably more like rediscovering somersaults.
You probably did somersaults all the time as a
kid. But you don’t do them much anymore. Aching joints aside, the simple
flips just aren’t on your radar. But try one, and you’ll experience a
familiar giddy rush.
That’s an imprecise simile, and I don’t mean to
trivialize libraries by equating them with childhood tumbling
exercises—though I expect a good many people see libraries as places for
kids. I have nothing to base this on, no concrete studies or
interviews, but my gut tells me that a few of you reading this consider
libraries as places where book reports and school research projects
began in the days before the Internet, where story time snares otherwise
fidgety toddlers for a few minutes on a brightly colored rug, where
college students cram for exams, their tabletops littered with notepaper
and energy-boosting drinks.
Libraries are all those things. But they’re more, too.
not going to quote statistics at you to prove my point, because numbers
proving that visits and circulation are on the rise are just that:
I will, however, note this financial detail:
According to the State of America’s Libraries report, California has
decimated library resources. The previous year’s budget slashed away
half of the $30.4 million going to public library programs that include
support for inter-library loans and literacy instruction. Subsequently,
all remaining funding for the programs was cut, a move that looks to
extend into the 2012-2013 cycle.
The California Library Association has been
diligent in reporting on committee and subcommittee members to whom you
can send a note of funding encouragement. Visit cla-net.org to find the
names and contact information for elected officials to whom you can
e-mail or fax.
As I wrote this, I had the following checked out
to me: 11 books for my children, my wife (she has her own card, but I
occasionally pick up items I think she’ll like), and myself; four audio
books for my frequent trips between Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo; and
a Fleet Foxes album.
I love that I can do this. I love that it costs
me virtually nothing (there’s a charge for holds and inter-library
loans, as well as late fees I unfortunately and scatter-brainedly incur
far too often). I love that my 4-year-old jumps up and down in delight
and my 2-year-old dances when I come through the door with a fresh stack
of stories for them. I love that my girls fall asleep each night
listening to everything from fantastical tales to science facts. I love
that I fall asleep most nights with a book in hand.
I love that puppet shows and live animals make
the rounds at branches throughout the county. I love that I always find
something new to look at when I visit. I love that the adult summer
reading program started June 1, and people who read eight books by the
end of August get prizes. (Participating libraries are in San Luis
Obispo, Atascadero, Arroyo Grande, Creston, Nipomo, Los Osos, Cayucos,
and Santa Margarita).