Thursday, January 15, 2004

On Libraries Not My Own

I just want to take a moment to mourn the drastic reduction in operating hours of my neighborhood library. At the turn of the new year, the big bad budget cuts went into effect. Instead of closing down two or three city libraries, the library board decided to reduce the hours of all city libraries. So my little library went from being open six days a week to only three days each week. Of course I would rather sacrifice hours from all of the libraries in order to keep them all open, but part of me can't help worry about next year. I'm trying not to be cynical about the whole thing, but it's terribly hard. Republican conspiracy theories keep barging into my brain as if by magic. First we will use the PATRIOT Act to try and scare people out of libraries. Since that didn't work we'll go for economy stimulating tax cuts to rich people. (Of course the economy is still in the tank and the state has a huge deficit because our fine governor refuses to raise taxes on rich people's income.) So we'll keep people out of the libraries by cutting their operating budgets, forcing them to drastically reduce their hours. We don't want people to have access to important information. We don't want people to think and question what this great government is doing, besides who needs to know anything other than what's on Fox News, fair and balanced, right? (So do the hours get cut back next year when we still have a deficit? And the next and next until there are no hours left to cut and the only thing left is to close all of the libraries?) On a less mournful note, there is this fab group called Sabre. The folks there started a Book Donation Program many years back. The Program

strives to increase access to information resources in developing and transitional societies through large-scale distribution of in-kind donations of new books and other educational materials. Working closely with overseas non-profit partner organizations in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Africa and select other regions of the world, Sabre has to date shipped new books, journals, CD-ROMS and early learning materials to more than 60 countries.
Currently they are working with groups in Cuba, Ukraine, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Algeria. This group also sent thousands of books to Bosnia after Sarajevo and it's libraries were destroyed. They are a group that clearly understands the value of books and information.