News that Borders, the book store, may disappear reminded me of another great source for books that is under attack. The public library. State and local governments facing tight budgets are cutting back, and this once grand institution may soon be extinct.
That would be a tragedy. Having lived in other countries where public libraries do not exist, I have always had a fondness for this particular institution and its critical role facilitating the American dream.
Yes, the internet can give you access to all sorts of information with the click of a mouse. Yes, e-readers are making e-books more accessible. But there is both symbolism and substance in the ability of anyone to walk into a public library off the street and have access to books, newspapers, periodicals and other sources of information.
People still want to commune in a centralized location to browse through books and magazines in a public setting. Just go to any Barnes & Noble store and see all the people who are there browsing, reading, and socializing over a cup of coffee. The fact is, not everyone wants to sit alone with an e-book all the time.
Perhaps Barnes & Noble can fill the need for those who live near major shopping malls and can afford to buy Starbuck's coffee while they browse through a magazine. But what about those who do not live near shopping malls? or who do not have transportation? or who do not have internet access at home? Public libraries are essential to their individual and community growth and development.
Borders may be no more. But we cannot let the same thing happen to our public libraries.
Woodbridge, New Jersey