Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Libraries are for...books??

Have you seen this article yet? To summarize, a library in Ontario has discontinued craft activities, including a knitting group for little girls, because they want to reshift their focus towards books and reading.

As a knitter, it is sad to hear that others who share my love of the craft aren't welcome in libraries of all places. As a librarian, though...it is just so damn refreshing to be reminded that the reason libraries exist are for books and reading and literacy! (The Long Sault Library is apparently continuing its video game nights, however, due to the broad appeal. So discontinuing crafts programs isn't entirely for literature-based reasons.) I'm not at all opposed to providing internet access for the public, lending movies and video games, or holding non-book related programs. But I do like to think that people still come to the library for books too, and it's easy to forget that when you read all the popular library blogs and attend conferences and so little of the information is about books. I actually start thinking that librarianship is incredibly boring and how the hell did I get here?

But no, no. Libraries are not all about wikis and Second Life and playing video games in the library with homeless people instead of at home on your couch in your underwear like everyone else. They are also places to get books, a whole lot of really interesting books! For free! Books that you may have not even heard of until you found them at the library and now they are your favorite! Books that you wouldn't have wanted to pay for, but that you learned something interesting from! Books that you hated and were glad to give back!

While it is indeed unfortunate that this library in Ontario had to make cuts and get rid of any programs at all, I feel a certain sense of satisfaction that they have stood up for books and literacy. I wish that more libraries would focus their services similarly, as I refuse to believe that people no longer read books, or just download them to their Kindles. Books should be the primary focus of libraries; they are the reason why libraries exist in the first place. And honestly, there is no real reason why you need to go to a library to knit when you can just do it at home on your couch in your underwear.

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