The importance of libraries
The library is more important than you.
The library is more important than its librarians. The library is more important than the materials on its shelves, screens, and speakers. The library is more important than the buildings that house those materials. The library is more important than Andrew Carnegie.
The library is more important, because its potential for change and growth extends beyond you, to your family, your neighbors, and your community. The library is not just a symbol or a luxury. It is a cornerstone for an informed society to build its future.
Anyone can use the library's resources to become the next librarian, director, mayor, reporter, congressperson, governor, anything. The library is open to anyone to educate herself and her children without agenda or bias, to entertain himself with the media of his choice, to find employment, to research and read and listen and write and watch.
A librarian I work with said, "Good questions are more important than answers." A good question has the ability to stir in us a force as powerful as hunger.
So ask, Pittsburgh. Make demands. Tell the director. Tell the papers. Tell the mayor. Tell the city, county and state representatives how you feel about branches closing in your neighborhood and your neighbors' neighborhoods, what you think about library funding, how you feel about losing library workers to assist you, access to information, and hours of operation in which to access it.
And then ask yourself: Beyond just fighting to maintain the status quo, what do you want from the library? What does the best library you can imagine look like?
Is your ideal library a humming center in a vibrant community of empowered, engaged, autonomous citizens? What has to happen for all of this to come true? What is your part? The library is more important than this crisis.
The library is as important as you make it. All of this is possible. All of this is yours for the asking.