In my wildest dreams, advocacy was never part of my vocabulary due to images of activist from the 1960's. An activist or advocate was someone who held signs denouncing the ills of society. It did not ever occur to me that being an advocate for a cause was something I could do or would be take an active role. Who wants to spend days marching in front of public buildings to protest? Not this quiet librarian. However, as the old song goes, "the times are a changing." In these tough economic times, it is becoming apparent that libraries need an army of people who not only support them but will also take action to keep these institutions open. Recently, The Detroit Free Press published a portion of a letter I wrote in support of libraries facing mileages. Below, is the entire letter. This is the start of what is hoped to become a successful campaign for libraries in Michigan and across the United States. This librarian can no longer afford to be silent. Share this letter with friends, family and leaders in your community. The more people out in our communities spreading the word about libraries, the better!
The Michigan primary is just around the corner. A very important time for our state and communities as the process begins to select the Gubernatorial candidates come this November. In many communities across this great state, voters will also have to consider other matters such as a milage to support their local libraries. Not to diminish the importance of selecting gubernatorial candidate, but supporting local libraries is also important for the community and the state. No matter who becomes Governor of our great state, libraries will be needed. In the past year alone, there have been one too many library closings due to lack of funding. If Michigan is to be a leader in business, research, education and healthcare libraries must be the backbone of the community as a necessary support.
In February 2010, EPIC MRA conducted a survey commissioned by The Library of Michigan and MEL to determine adult usage of the libraries in Michigan, it was revealed that 86% of the adults surveyed visit their local library on a weekly basis. The purpose of the visit ranged from internet access, homework to pleasure reading. Contrary to some public opinion, the library is vital to a thriving community. the argument that people will not need libraries in the future due to the ease of access through computers and digital downloads, is thoughtless as it is pointless. Consider in your own homes, how many books are on the shelves? If there is more than ten books on a shelf or a set of encyclopedia, is there still a need for a library? Of course! Libraries hold the keys to gathering information in print, digital and databases that are too expensive for a family to afford on their own. The futuristic library may be computerized but there will still be a need for professionals to instruct, assist and provide information through whatever available format.
In a perfect world, all of Michigan’s communities would have leaders who understood the importance of libraries and the services they provide. In reality, libraries are fighting to stay open due to leaders looking for an easy fix to an economic situation. For some community leaders it is easier to thow away a valuable service than to stop to consider what will be lost. What will be lost is the one place in a community where privacy matters, self-education begins and effective means of sharing resources and ideas come together. It is democracy in action.
On August 3rd voters will be make many decisions that will affect their lives. In the communities asking for a milage to support the libraries, think about the value that libraries bring to your community. Support candidates who understand the value of libraries, then support libraries by voting yes to the milage. Voting yes for libraries is a vote for a thriving, prosperous community for present and future generations.
Mrs. Nowc Librarian At Large