In praise of the public library

I’m an academic librarian, and I spend a lot of time thinking about higher education, research, and related topics.  But I’m also a reader of novels, a watcher of movies, a listener-to of music, and a General Member of the Community.  (Which community?  Oh, well…lots of them, I guess.)

As such, I just have to spend a minute singing the praises of my local public library system, which recently won a national award for its services.  The Multnomah County Library is awesome.  I’ve somehow managed to read fifty books this year, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many of those I got from the library.  (Most.)  Not to mention the movies and TV series I’ve borrowed, and the music I’ve found, and the zines I’ve read (they collect zines!) and the fact that recently I got to visit their Special Collections division, and saw Charles Dickens’s signature.

Just last night a friend told me about their electronic books and on-demand videos (they use Library2Go and NetLibrary, among other products I probably haven’t even discovered yet.)  Right this minute, I could be watching a free showing of Declining by Degrees, or The Persuaders, or listening to a Michael Moorcock book or a Shakespeare play on my iPod.  (Well right now I’m at work, but you know…) All I have to have is a library card, a little time on my hands, and interest.

Libraries are pretty incredible institutions.  Communities that understand and values libraries are, to my way of thinking, healthy and inspiring places to live.  I’m so glad and grateful to part of this community, and to have access to this mild, modest, totally kick-ass library system.


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