Friday, April 22, 2016

Libraries are community

Plainfield, IL is booming, with a big jump in population over the last 25 years. It needs a new library to serve this larger number of citizens. So they put a bond proposal on the ballot. For residents with a comfortable income the size of the millage would have been no big deal, especially since recent polling shows 65 % of people say closing a library would have a major impact on their community, even if it seems only 32% of those polled actually use the library a lot.

Then the Koch brothers and their Americans for Prosperity got involved. Robocalls made false claims. The millage was defeated. Ouch!

But why would the minions of the Koch brothers want to get involved in quashing the library in a small, prosperous town? Alas, it hasn't been a single small town. Libraries are underfunded in lots of other places.

This is why rich people don't like libraries – and the rest of us do. I'm following ideas presented by Susan Grigsby of Daily Kos.

Th library is an essential community center. It's a cool place on a hot day. Storytellers will entertain children. Students do research among the books and online. The library offers meeting spaces for community organizations. It offers classes on how to use modern tech. It helps people find jobs.

Community activists are more likely to use libraries than non activists. They use the meeting rooms and do research.

Libraries are publicly funded. They are a common resource, available to all. The lower one's income is the more likely one is to use a library. If a library was privatized the poor would be hurt the most.

Libraries are all about community, all of us caring for each other. The rich don't like that idea because they don't make a profit from it and because it pulls attention away from their corporate goods.

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