Guys, can we just talk about how magical the library is? Just stop for a second and think about how spectacular it is that anyone, anyone, can come into a library and will receive stellar service regardless of ability to pay. The library is society's great equalizer; the most democratic of civic institutions.
As a student of library science, I can't wait for the day when I can work in a place I respect as much as the library. However, I worry that I may not be able to. Not because libraries are dying--in fact, usage numbers remain at historical highs as many people are still economically impacted after The Great Recession. I fear that I won't be able to work in a library because, despite serving more patrons than ever and adopting more technology than ever to remain relevant, libraries' funding is being slashed.
No, that's not an exaggeration. This isn't one of those "but that's not happening here" things. It's happening here and in libraries nationwide. This isn't your average nostalgia-laden book nerd waxing poetic. This is real life.
And libraries aren't just repositories for books and sending your kids for story time when you need a cheap babysitter.
Just as a reminder about some of the awesome things your Jefferson County Libraries--including my personal favorites, the Birmingham Public Library Central and Southside branches--provide.
- Nearly 2 million items in 40 libraries countywide
- In person, or online holds on items at any library in the county
- Delivery service - the items residents want where they want to pick them up
- 24/7 catalog, downloadable audio (7,174) & E-books (13,440)
- Information databases
- Internet access –Plus Free WiFi available in 40 libraries
- Books-By-Mail for the homebound
- IT Support for member libraries
Pretty awesome, right? I think so too.
But here's the rub: Doing great work requires money. Dough. Pesos. Deniro. Legal tender. The almighty dollar--the very thing libraries are in desperate need of.
And get this. Even if you're not a library user yourself, you benefit from supporting the library. Libraries provide classes on how to get jobs and the more people that have jobs means less of your tax dollars going to support unemployment. Libraries provide a safe space for teens to go after school and not having teens on the streets cuts down on things like teen pregnancy, youth drug use, and whatever other kind of troublesome shenanigans the kids these days are up to. So even if you're not at the library yourself doing research and checking out materials, you still get the civic benefits.
That is why, over the two days--May 12th and 13th--you should donate to #TheGreatGive campaign. You can donate online or by mailing a check to Jefferson County Library Cooperative, 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL 35203, or by dropping off a donation at any local library.
And, guess what else?! If you donate and promote #TheGreatGive on social media, you'll be entered for a chance to win an e-reader. That's a great reason to post a selfie with your library card or this week's library book haul.