It’s not possible to overstate the importance of libraries as idea beacons, agents of literacy, and centers of community life. If you are not a regular library patron you’re missing out for at least nine reasons.
Today the public is ever more aware of what libraries have to offer. People who haven’t used a library since elementary school are flocking back to drop children off for enrichment programs or to get help with job searches. All sorts of awesome services keep them coming back. That’s why total library visits have increased 40% in the last ten years.
But the economy’s dragging heels badly scuff up library funding. The American Library Association (ALA) reports that about 60 percent of U.S. libraries have flat or decreased budgets, following three years of funding deficits in many areas. The situation is equally dire in the U.K., where ten percent of all library employees have lost their jobs in the last year.
Sometimes people resort to dire tactics when their local libraries are in peril. That’s what happened in Troy, Michigan when a 0.7 percent tax raise was necessary to keep the public library open. That measure was strongly opposed by anti-tax groups. To counter their influence, a Book Burning Party scheduled for a few days after the vote was widely publicized. See what happened.
Should the historical horrors of book burning ever be used for short-term gain? Does the reverse psychology of this absurd ruse water down political discourse? We’d like to hear your thoughts.