Indulge me in an off topic post tonight. Though I’ll draw some threads back to fat acceptance somewhere in there, I promise you.
Some of you may already know that I am a librarian. I don’t actually work in a library itself, but I work in head office of a large public library service (largest in the Southern Hemisphere to be precise) supporting the technology of our libraries. But my heart belongs to libraries, both the services they provide and the environments they create.
So it breaks my heart to hear stories of libraries around the world either closing down, or taking furlough time so that they can stay open part time. I notice this particularly in the US, but I am also hearing it happen in the rest of the world.
When I was a little girl and then later a teenager, and into my adulthood, libraries were my haven from the world. Some time ago I wrote a post on my old blog – you can read it here if you like – about just how important libraries and librarians are to me.
My plea to you, dear readers, is to visit your local libraries. Use them, explore them and fight for them. Make it clear what you need from your libraries. Don’t let them slide into oblivion in your town, because the politicians, the people with power and money don’t understand their significance to the community. When looking at what it costs to run public facilities, libraries are inexpensive to run and maintain. They take a mere fraction of the money that is spent on other public services. However, their impact on a community is highly significant. When a community has a healthy, well-used library, it shows that the community itself is healthy. They’re like the frogs of a community!
Libraries provide more than just books to read and get information from. Just looking at the services my own library service provides, I can list the following:
- Early literacy resources, like baby, toddler and storytelling sessions.
- Homework help for children and teens – especially useful for kids whose parents work long hours and might not be available or have the skills to help themselves
- Creative outlets for all ages of the community – be it craft groups, writing groups, book clubs, photography classes, space for local artists to showcase their work among many other creativity services.
- Access to books, magazines, DVD’s, CD’s, eBooks and audiobooks, newspapers and other materials for free or for a small fee – much more affordable than having to buy them.
- Access to information databases – everything from genealogy, photographic collections, science and medicine, academic resources, literature and history, business, local laws and building codes, languages, world newspapers and many more.
- Language collections.
- Adult literacy services.
- Meeting spaces for public groups and community groups.
- Job search classes and services.
- Internet/computer literacy classes.
- Scanning facilities for photographs and documents.
- Internet access for those who don’t have it at home.
- Comic books and graphic novels.
- Social help for kids and teens – after school and holiday activities are an excellent safe space for kids/teens to socialise as well as learn/participate.
- Warm in winter and cool in summer – somewhere to escape the cold/heat.
- Film nights, documentary screenings and public performances.
- Many libraries now have news screens or sports screens now.
- Gaming – most of ours have X-boxes.
- And so much more.
Go to your library and join. TAKE YOUR KIDS TO YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY! Write to your local politicians and tell them the importance of libraries. If your library doesn’t offer the services you need, write them a friendly letter requesting the service, or pop in and talk to a librarian about how you can help start up that service. Take your parents, neighbours, friends and other relatives to your local library. I don’t know about your local library, but all of ours welcome you to bring a cup of coffee (a few even have coffee shops built into them!) and sit and read, either on your own or to your kids.
Not to mention that libraries are usually accessable, free (or very low cost) and very fat friendly – I’ve said before, librarians don’t care what you look like, we care that you’re reading and visiting the library.
Don’t let libraries die because politicians and people in power see them as a quick way to cut some budget. Fight for your libraries because they are YOURS, and part of your community.