Shhh! Stop Saying Libraries Are Dying!

Photo of scolding librarian

There are many, many things that I dearly love about working in a library, about providing children’s services and that absolutely thrill me about my decision to pursue my post-graduate education in library science. But people telling me…

“That’s what Google is for.”

“Nothing relevant is even in print form anymore; even books can be digital.”

“Once everyone owns a Kindle no one will even go to the library.”

“You chose, like, the Latin of professions.”

…are DEFINITELY NOT among those many, many things. (Don’t even get me started on, “You need a degree for that?”)

Because the truth is, libraries are not just giant warehouses full of musty, dated books, just like librarians are not brittle, grumpy ladies who wear ugly cardigans and cat-eye glasses on chains and shush you from on high through lipstick-stained teeth. (We are really more ChapStick people.)Librarians catalog, program and organize to make information as easy to find as possible for as many people as possible. Libraries can loan you eBooks to read on whatever tablet or e-reading device you own, not to mention movies, music, magazines, e-magazines and sheet music, for free. Some libraries even check out things like cake pans. Libraries can pay for access to databases with trustworthy information otherwise too protected by copyright for a person or family to afford.

Plus, change in format is hardly a new phenomenon to libraries. Libraries have moved from storing papyrus scrolls to, skipping a few centuries, storing PDF and MP3 files. The television did not kill the radio, the ability to own personal copies of movies and TV shows did not kill cable programming and the Internet has not killed newspapers; all of these formats merely adapted to make room for their more modern counterparts. Google and Amazon will not kill libraries; libraries will continue to adapt.

Now, dear reader, as you are clearly visiting a library’s children’s blog, I realize I am preaching to the choir. But what influence this parental and care-giving choir can wield!

Children with fond memories of story timessummer reading programsguest performers, and time with families at their local public libraries are more likely to consider the library a relevant resource as they grow older. The people who tell me libraries are pointless are also, upon further questioning, the people who have not stepped foot in one since they were very small children, if ever. They are the people who did not continue to utilize libraries as they began both to read independently and to research as young adults. Let’s not build a generation that ignores the library-provided plethora of resources at its fingertips or that does not understand the permanent value of knowing how to navigate information to find answers. Let your children see you use the library for yourself. If they ask a question you do not know the answer to, narrate how you go about finding the answer, or ask a librarian to do so. What better way to reinforce the fact that libraries are a lifelong resource than through example?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to polish my collection of glasses chains, but you should check out this fun list of books involving libraries your munchkins will love.

photo credit: Rochelle, just rochelle via photopin cc

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