Economic cuts aren't just affecting jobs and schools in the United States and abroad: local libraries are shrinking and downsizing to fit monetary restrictions, too. This story (read it!) narrates the efforts of a hardcore group of people in Britain who are committed to keeping their local libraries in business.
These book lovers' dedication made me especially happy in light of the recent closure of both major chain bookstores in downtown Santa Barbara, where I live. Barnes and Noble and Borders closed their doors a couple months ago -- I'm not sure when, since I spent the fall in the UK -- leaving papered windows and boarded-up doors and a book-less city behind. So I can relate to these protesters in England. I, too, am wondering where am I going to get my books now? Books aren't just entertaining and informative: books are freedom. Get this: "There was a time in Britain, say 160 years ago, when some in Parliament didn't believe in public libraries at all. The worry was, if the working class read books, it would get dangerous ideas and rise up against the government." Maybe the situation isn't quite the same now, as books are available online in mass quantities, but they're still radical -- challenging -- culture-shaping -- questioning. Libraries are centers of knowledge, places where kids learn to love to read and where people of all ages gather to share that love, to read words aloud, to meet as a community.
Definitely worth saving.
Are your libraries and bookstores suffering as the economy and publishing industry re-adjust? What does your library mean to you as a writer, reader, and global citizen? Are you willing to max out your library card and check out 16,000 books to save your library?