Thursday, September 16, 2010

Public libraries should be necessities in rural and urban communities

Funding of U.S. libraries, including those in rural areas, should be considered a matter of national security, writes an Atlanta novelist. "Keeping libraries open, giving access to all children to all books is vital to our nation’s sovereignty," Karin Slaughter, author of 10 crime novels and native of Jonesboro, Ga., writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Librarians are soldiers in the battle for our place in the world, and in many cases they are getting the least amount of support our communities can offer."

Slaughter notes that 85 percent of children in rural areas only have access to technology and books outside of the classroom in public libraries, and "for many urban kids, the only safe haven they have to study or do homework is the public library." Reading is an essential element of child development because fundamentally children are selfish and "reading about other people creates a sense of balance in a child’s life," Slaughter writes. She notes children who read well do better in school, and those who do better in school are more likely to go to college, get better jobs and in turn, pay more taxes.

"We need to shift our national view of libraries not as luxuries, but as necessities," Slaughter writes. "When tragedy strikes in other nations, Americans are generous, but our libraries are being hit with a tsunami and there has been no call to action. Staffs are being fired. Hours are being cut. Doors are being closed. Buildings are being razed. Kids are being left behind. Futures are being destroyed." She concludes, "Libraries are not simply part of our guarantee to the pursuit of happiness. They are a civil right, the foundation upon which time and time again the American dream has been built. If we lose our libraries, we risk losing our communities, our families and ourselves." (Read more)

1 comment:

Lynn Pettigrew Norris said...

Well said. And our thoughts exactly. Please visit our rural library project - Lighthouse Library - for a rural Kansas town at: We have built it with volunteer labor & no Government funding. We have 20,000 donated books.(If only every donated book came with one dollar inside - we would be thrilled!)We never qualified for even the local (foundation) grants. They always said we did not meet their criteria. The large corporations always said, "Although your project is a worthy one, we cannot offer a grant at this time." Our town is just too small. But we are 26 miles from the nearest library one way and 18 miles the other way! We need help to finish the job. All volunteers are so tired - but we could finish with help after two years of building. Thank you. Lynn Norris, ECCRC Director, PO Box 40, Dexter, KS 67038.