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Sarah K @mordantkitten
, 17 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
They haven't used libraries since childhood because they have this marvelous, easy-to-use instant-gratification database, the internet, which also tells them what to think about the informtion instead of requiring them to decide.
There wasn't any when I was a kid. (There was ARPANET, but that is clearly not the point.) We were taught to use the library in first grade. It took effort. The effort reaped rewards. The library was a privilege.
The library was not divided into Proper Thought Books and Improper Thought Books. The non-fiction was catalogued by subject, the fiction by author. That was it. The rest was up to us.
Most public libraries are still catalogued that way. Academic and specialized libraries use a system that has more specifics, but still no "This Is Proper Thought" tags. We leave that to the television and the internet.
Now those that hold power and money wish to take away the information source that is available to people of all means, all beliefs, all preferences of entertainment and knowledge media. They want to take away choice of self-education. Choice of thought.
You haven't used the library since you were a kid because nobody was wise and loving enough to make it necessary for you to do so. Now you don't want to spend the (comparatively very small) amount to make it possible to do so.
I cannot stress enough that the internet is ephemeral. Books aren't eternal but they're still there when you can't afford electricity, or there's no electricity to have. Their text can't be changed, instantaneously, from a distance.
Books are there when the internet providers are down. Books are there when the mobile phone providers are down. Libraries provide access to books. Libraries let you take them home long enough to read them.
But as comforting as books can be, as reliable as they can be, ibraries are not about books. Libraries are about access to information, and people who know how to find it and are trained to help you get at it efficiently.
Librarians are not paid to influence you, to subvert you, to keep you in line, to require your social or political compliance. We help you decide what information you need by listening to what YOU say, and helping you access the paths to it.
Not long ago, libraries were told they would be required to turn over patrons' borrowing and internet access records. You know what we did? We stopped keeping those records so there'd be nothing we could tell anyone about you.
If you're reading this, you can thank a library. Even if you didn't have access to one, your teachers did while they were learning to teach you.
A politician or media personality (is there a difference any more?) once brushed off libraries as being "bookstores for poor people." This suggested that one should only have books if one could buy them. That is a means of restricting access.
The library budget is not allocated according to books per person. It is allocated according to persons per book. Every single book serves many people. Your taxes don't buy books for people to own, but to share.
And if you are someone who thinks that making books available for free is unfair to authors, know that authors *want* their books in the libraries. They want to be paid (and are, by the library), but they also want their books read.
I am not dismayed at politicians' desire to close libraries because I am a librarian. I am a librarian because I have always been dismayed at politicians' desire to close libraries.
Not all librarians are fortunate enough to work in their field. But, employed by libraries or not, we are librarians. We studied to be, we love to be, and we are not going to let libraries go without informing you of exactly what you'd be losing.
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