I found this wonderful W.P.A. poster published in the Utne Reader showing a library at the crossroads. History sure does repeat itself. Again we are facing economic challenges and we’ve all had to tighten our belts. In times like these it is more important than ever to value, protect and grow our libraries. The American Library Association reports that across the country, libraries are reducing hours, cutting staff or closing their doors and these drastic measures were not taken even during the Great Depression.
Yet libraries give us a place to come together, explore new ideas and great minds. During hard times citizens turn to our libraries and the resources there have the power to break the cycle of poverty. The diversity and character represented on those shelves connects us to a world of information and ideas. They are also a great place to escape, to find a quiet place and listen to your own heartbeat. Libraries don’t discriminate and give every person and equal chance to grow. Those who don’t have access to computers or the Internet can connect at a library. Have you ever been to a story hour and watched what happens to children as they learn to let their imaginations soar? I believe that when times are tough we need to remember the importance of teaching kids to dream that anything is possible.
So the question is what can we do, those of us who are passionate about books to make a difference? We need to become champions for libraries in any way we can and teach our children to do the same. We can donate time or money to libraries, write letters to our elected officials and media organizations. Volunteer to read at schools and libraries and take our kids there on a regular basis so they can grow their own love of books.
Speaking of growing I want to share with you a family project that my 8 year old son Santiago started because our public school does not have a library. We decided as a family it was time to grow one. We’re telling our friends and letting parents at our school know that books count. Family and friends of reading have been stepping up to sponsor books. I personally like the idea of getting kids excited about finding a book instead of a video game.
A big shout goes out to children’s book writers and illustrators like Monica Brown, Beth Krommes and John Parra who have embraced the idea, contributed to the blog and even sent books. Hopefully it will become a resource to inspire children and their families to grow libraries too.