Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Library

For anyone who has been reading my blog. For anyone who knows me. For anyone who did more than take a quick glance around this spot. It's quite obvious that I am a reader. An avid reader. Sometimes even a book a day reader.

I am in two book clubs. Most of my choices are not high brow. I am a huge fan of pop fiction. I love smut. I like to escape with pure entertainment.

But my book reading habit. It wouldn't be a habit without the library. I rarely buy books. I prefer to get them from the library. In fact, even with a gift card, I am hard pressed to purchase a book when I know that I could read it for free. Or rather when I realize that through my tax dollars, I have already purchased the book that I want to read.

We use the library a lot. When the girls were little, we would go to storytime. To movies. Puppet shows. I have gone to neighborhood meetings. Girl scout meeting. And to vote at the library.

We are there often for homeschooling. Katie does research. We use the encyclopedias. We ask questions of the reference librarian. We use the computers.

It's an amazing resource. But. Our local libraries have had to make huge cutbacks. The tax base is just not what it was. The hours are shorter. And now they are only open 5 days a week instead of 7. There is talk of branch closings. And their purchasing department is losing funds. All of these events have led to much whining and complaining from me.

But then I heard last night that the city of Philadelphia is closing ALL of their public libraries. ALL of them. In the city of the very first library - there will no longer be free lending libraries. It is a travesty.

So...what about you? Do you use the library? Have the libraries in your area been affected by the economy? Had you heard about Philadelphia's libraries?

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28 comments:

sassy stephanie said...

It's sickening. To see all of the wasteful spending, then things of importance for the future of our children, such as this and PE & music in school suffer......heart breaking.

Practically Perfect... said...

I had heard that the Philadelphia system was struggling, but not that they'd closed. Our local library has cut back on hours, but otherwise they're doing really well. They just finished a huge fundraiser and opened a brand-new branch a few months ago. However, they are only open 8 hours a day 5 days a week (M-F), whereas before it was 12 hours a day 6 days a week (M-Sat) and 4 hours on Sundays. They've also started charging $1.00/day for DVD rentals, and really increased the penalties for late fines.

The library in our last community (Massachusetts) was really struggling. They were going down to 4 days a week, and it didn't look good. Lots of libraries in that area shut down.

mub said...

That's heartbreaking! I've really missed having access to the public library system... there are public libraries here, but they're fee based (my city's is 40 euro per year) plus a small fee for DVDs/CDs/language books and so on.

Firefly mom said...

I hadn't heard about the Phillidelphia libraries - that's terrible! We haven't had any library closings around here. In fact, our little hamlet is *finally* getting our own library next spring! We'll then have 3 libraries less than 5 miles from our house ;)

And yes, we go ALL the time! We take full advantage of the online search and inter-library loans. We get books, audio books, dvd's, even computer games. They also have a thing where you can listen to audio book downloads on your computer for 2 weeks per book.

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

Personally, I see it as a scare tactic. Meant to rile up the citizen's and put pressure on the powers that be to make sure it doesn't happen. I do think it's a very GOOD scare tactic, and will work, so honestly, I don't see them actually closing.

Finding Normal said...

I hadn't heard that, but I'm not surprised. Certainly disappointed that they would close everything. Our library has cut back some hours, I think, and perhaps has fewer staff (although there are always a few standing around, so I'm not sure it's not overstaffed anyway!), but their lending has increased greatly, according to a recent newspaper article. I love the library, and rarely buy a book, mostly because I blow through them so quickly and we just don't have space (or $!) for all of that!

Elena said...

OH my...no...I hadn't heard that. So sad! I have to admit, I have no patience for the library. Everytime I go to get a book, my library either doesn't have it, or the waiting list is 6 months long. I have a book buying addiction. So true. But...I do love to go the library for my kids. I can't even imagine a world without a library.

Linda said...

No, I had not heard that about Philly's libraries. I would be devastated. We hit the library at least once a week. I am constantly putting books and DVDs on hold. Some are to supplement our homeschool studies, some are just for fun. But all are essential to my peace and sanity! Some of my earliest memories are of going to the library with my grandma and my dad.

We passed a library tax a few elections back so the library system here is in pretty good shape it would appear. I think it was a stupid way to make us pay for something we were already paying for but that they couldn't keep budgeted correctly. But don't get me going. Our local branch can't keep up with all of the new purchases and I haven't seen any cutbacks. But who knows how long that will last. Of all the wasteful spending on useless programs in this country it only makes sense that libraries should be suffering, right? Wouldn't want that money to go to something that is actually beneficial to everyone. Ugh Like I said, don't get me going. LOL

Samvach said...

Kat,
We are incredibly, incredibly blessed to have a fabulous library just 15 minutes from our house. Even better is it right next to where my children go for swim team so it is UBER-CONVENIENT for me. I can't imagine homeschooling without the library. We borrow so many educational videos that I could never afford to purchase and we have learned so much from these videos. As well, I usually check out huge stacks of children's books to go along with our unit studies and only purchase a few key ones for each unit. Our unit studies would not be nearly as rich without the use of the library. We have also checked out stacks and stacks and stacks and stacks of readers while the children were learning how to read and when they were reading the early readers. How wonderful to not have to purchase those little books! For my personal reading pleasure, though, I am usually reading something from the "not high brow" category as well. I devour cozy-mysteries and paranormal romances. While I do sometimes get these from the library, I have had HUGE, HUGE success with PaperBackSwap. PBS has been a great resource for me for books for our homeschool as well as for my personal collection. I enjoy reading books in a series so if I find a series I like I usually put the other books in the series on my Wish List on PBS if they are not readily available. I am always getting books in the mail and that is so fun! Thank you for a great post - the librarians at our local library know me by name! It's just like Cheers without the beer!
Samantha

Wendy Hawksley said...

That's awful! I never heard about Philly's issues, but I always tried to avoid the Philly news channels. They were just too depressing half the time (Delaware was always so much more quiet).

The library in my hometown also cut its hours back severely, AFTER putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into expanding the library. Duhhh...

The library on the base here in Korea is open 7 days a week and I'm so grateful to be able to go on a Sunday (when nobody is around) to get huge stacks of books for homeschooling.

They don't have all the fiction I want (and neither do the other bases), but I've learned to make do if I want to fulfill my reading habit.

I still purchase plenty on Amazon, but not as much as I actually want!

Linda said...

OMG...a city that size closing a lending library? Can it be?
We are so fortunate that in my town we have a lovely and active library. It is always filled with people. They host artists monthly and use their common space for meetings for civic groups who pay a very marginal useage fee.
But the library itself it bustling with people from preschoolers to seniors...always. Here is a link to our library http://www.newhartfordpubliclibrary.org/

CaraBee said...

I am an avid library user. As far as I can tell, our libraries are in okay shape. Not sure how that is, since our state is always in a budget crunch. I won't go into my usual diatribe about the wasteful spending and so on, but it is shameful. And it would be a travesty if Philly's libraries were to close. A real tragedy.

Heather said...

I am devastated to hear that!

Our library has cut their hours somewhat, but they are still a very busy enterprise. The librarians are wonderful, knowing my whole family by name, even remembering Gabe's love of Goosebumps books and my love of Jodi Picoult.

Here in Ohio, voters fussed so much to our governor, that he adjusted the cuts that were planned for the libraries. It is such a shame that this is even an issue...

Tiffany said...

Kat, Like you, we LOVE our library and use it quite often. Here in Henry co, there are 5 libraries and although we have one 15 minutes away, we drive 30 minutes to one at the other end of the county because they have our favorite librarians and they do so much for the homeschool community. Cutbacks have been very severe down here as well. Unfortunately, our libraries were only open 6 days a week before and we have not yet seen a change in the hours or the days. I used to complain that they weren't open 7 days a week but now, I realize how lucky we are to have what we have. I had heard that Philly's libraries were experiencing trouble but had not heard that they were closing. That is nothing short of criminal. To take away something as vital as public libraries is tragic.

Rhea said...

I do use the library. I use it in spurts, and lately I've been too busy to even go by...but I need to. I need to go pay my late fees. hehe

I can't believe the libraries are closing! That's a major tragedy.

I've used ours for so much. For books, for computer, the boys went to a chess club that met there, etc.
I love the library. You can't be a book lover and not use your local library, I say!

Swirl Girl said...

We use our libraries all the time. I get the reading lists from the teacher, we map out our required points...and Voila! Free books!

Jill said...

I wish we had a library here... I love to read! We can use the library at the school, but the selection isn't really geared towards adults. Thankfully the bookstores here sell the same books as the states at a fraction of the price! Then we all share... which obviously helps defray some of the costs!

BTW - am I going to be seeing Flat Stanley any time soon? He's going to be missing the Taj Mahal next week - bummer! But if he's here by mid-October he can go with us to Singapore!

Jenny said...

That is such a crime to close ALL the libraries.

If I really love a book, I really love to own it too and have it on my shelves.

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

Gak! I'm in Philly (burbs anyway!) Yeah that sucks. My library, which I am just getting to know, had flyers up about cutting back because they did not have funding. Right now since I'm MOM 24/7 with no break I can't get to the library much to check out books. I mostly use the online catalog and then dash over with one kids when something is ready to be picked up.

I love the library. It's one of the best things about living here. Previously I used to take my laptop to the library and work because it was a quiet place to think. I'll be very saddened if they cut any more than they already have.

Shannon said...

I'm ashamed to say we don't use our local library very much... kind of odd, since I'm all about getting things for free.

And I've never even been inside our main library branch that's downtown... only to the branch that's about 15 minutes away from my house. And this particular branch has had to close on Mondays due to budget cuts.


We did use the library last summer, when I had signed the girls up for their summer reading program.

But as for me... I'd rather purchase books. I love getting them all brand new, fresh and clean, when no one has read them yet.

angie said...

Still gasping. No libraries in Philadelphia? I use the library CONSTANTLY. It's one of my favorite resources. I haven't seen any cutbacks at my library, but now I'm getting nervous....

Gina said...

I *sloppy french kiss* love the library. All my kids ave thier own cards, and I can see what we all have checked out online. We only live a half mile from the library, so it gets a lot of use.

Karen said...

As a former librarian (really), it sickens me to see what's happening in Philly and other areas of the country. People don't realize what a great FREE public resource they're going to lose if more libraries go the way of Philly.

I go the my own public library 3 or 4 times a week. I've been contemplating buying a Kindle, but the one and only thing stopping me is the fact that then I won't get to go to the library as much...

Teri said...

I love the library. A couple of years ago, I decided (like you) that there is something really cool about reading free books. And really cheap, too.
I am shocked about the Philadelphia libraries. Benjamin Franklin is surely rolling over in his grave.

Lula! said...

I am in the library 3 days per week. Ours has been affected by the economy, so we are checking out more books for the girls to read, in a show of support. I had not heard about Philly's libraries. SADDEST THING EVER, and in a city so rich with American history.

p.s. You know me...I buy books...for my personal library.

Lauren W said...

I hate to think of the library slowly dying out! I've always loved the library. I don't go as often as I used to, but everytime I walk in one, it's kinda like going home.

DysFUNctional Mom said...

I heard about this from my friend Lori (http://lori-thequeensnewthrone.blogspot.com/) who is also an avid reader and Philly resident. I really hope somehow they are able to keep those libraries open! That's a terrible thing to cut.

Cairo Typ0 said...

Closing hte libraries in Philly is a crime! I really thikn the money could have been found to keep them going if the city had worked at it. Reading is far, far too important to let budget cuts get in the way!