Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Modern Libraries as Community Centers

Carl Sagan said this of libraries: "The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries."

In the face of vanishing libraries due to lack of governmental funding, this serves as a good reminder of the public good that libraries do for civilized societies. This also serves as a reminder of the main function of libraries as opposed to being community centers with computers, loud homework coaching sessions in the main halls, older teens getting together to eat dinner to the accompaniment of jokes and laughter, and music entertainment for the little ones, where the poor book stacks are being pushed against the walls in ever-reducing numbers.

So a few libraries across the nation have come up with creative ways to enforce a modicum of rules at their facilities.


No chewing on headphone cords (in the children's section)


Don't reach across my desk (in the YA section)

Then there's:

No reshelving even if you're a Library Science major (to prevent mis-filing, but even more importantly, to collect stats on which books get read how much for future buying and weeding out purposes)

And finally:

No bathing (for those downtown libraries that see a lot of homeless traffic)