Wednesday, December 6, 2006

027.1 Books in Libraries

Anyone who believes the tradition of books and printed materials in libraries is coming to an end has not attended a book fair in an elementary school, visited the nearest bookstore lately, or thumbed thru the stacks and stacks of catalogs full of the latest publications.

I was invited to participate in an area school's night at the bookfair this evening and the library "book" is not dead! There were tables and tables and tables FULL of beautifully illustrated stories, shiny brightly covered information books, piles of paperbacks in every thickness, and even magazine subscription opportunities. And the place was packed. I saw both children and parents with armloads of books patiently waiting their turns at the cash register. I saw eager readers hunkered down in every nook and cranny "test-reading" the latest offerings of many popular authors. The loudest noises in the room were from the children who were begging for just one more title or yelping because they had to choose between this one and that one! It was a beautiful sight.

I maneuvered my way around one of the local bookstores a couple of Saturdays ago and there is no lack of books there either. There were so many to choose from, my head was spinning by the time I found my way back to the door. And book catalogs promoting new titles and re-issues of classic favorites litter the floor of our office. I feel sorry for the mailman and I'm not talking about the fact that it is the season for extra bundles in his bag.

Notice I did not use the term " libraries full of books." I totally recognize that the books in today's libraries are squeezing together to make room for computers, videotapes, recorded books, and all the other forms of information and pleasure reading we can now choose in our libraries. I even realize that some of the printed forms of information that were absolute necessities in the libraries I haunted as a user are no longer needed in the numbers they once were. When was the last time you saw a whole wall of encyclopedias or had to take notes from a magazine someone pulled from a back room? Three cheers for change!

But a bookless library (or worse, a non-existent library)...I don't think so!

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