One of the towns I used to live in is apparently raising two million dollars for renovations to its library. I told my mother (an active supporter and board member of her public library) that I thought this was a waste of money as the role that libraries play in society has been/will be diminished. I suggested the town is better served spending its money on a public space like a park or garden.
My mother was disgusted.
She informed me that that public libraries are being used as much, or more than ever before. She said that while people don’t take books out as often, instead poorer families still rely on the library as their primary information source: internet access, consumer reports, magazine and even travel guides are hugely popular. The library also is increasingly community oriented offering meeting spaces and discussion groups.
I was pretty surprised to hear all this because I’d assumed that libraries were a dying breed as people increasingly access information online from home, or opt to sit and read at a Barnes & Noble instead. Although I once wrote about how the library was the original Internet I was sure the role of the library as a physical location was greatly diminished.
While I don’t for a minute doubt my mother’s facts on library use, given the choice of allocating money either toward a park or toward a library, I would still opt for the park.
How about you?