Friday, June 3, 2011

A Biased Opinion

As part of the tech challenge I attended the June CSS board meeting at the NJ Talking Book and Braille Center.  I enjoyed the tour of the Center and was most impressed by how much it has to offer. 

It's been a long time since I've met with other youth services librarians and I enjoyed talking "shop" as well as finding out what the current issues are.  The major concern is the tremendous pressure on libraries due to funding issues.  Unfortunately politicians tend to view the local library as a non-essential service.  Yet to me access to a library is essential in order to have an informed democratic society (granted most people do not come in to read Plato but the point is that the library is there for them).  It is also a place where people in a community can come together . 

Most important to me are the community's youngest members.  At the public library access to the tools of literacy, whether it be storytime, a collection of board books, or playing learning games on the computer, is available to every child with no regard to economic background.  I feel that storytime offers so much to get a child started on the road to reading - sight, sound, exposure to art and literature, and the personal interaction with the storyteller.  No matter how social the media, a child needs to experience the real world and to be with other children.  Storytime also inspires the imagination and creativity.  I am always surprised how I can give 10 children the exact same craft materials and have 10 totally different projects as a result. Children from all economic backgrounds benefit from the storytime experience which is just a part of what is available at most libraries.  There is so much more. 

Let's hope that those in our profession who are shaping the future of libraries make sure that there is a balance between the traditional and the new, between cutting costs and cutting service and that when allocating increasingly limited funds, they do not loose sight of the needs of all users no matter what their age or economic situation. 

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