Saturday, April 21, 2007
Save our Libraries?
Recently, the library in the town where I go to school has been closed because of budget cuts. It was a sad moment for me as I realized that there would be less of an excitement amongst children to read; there would be no place for them to borrow books from the city's collection. As I stood outside the building, a wave of emotion hit me in one of the most profound ways it has ever done before. And I have not been the same since.
But all around the building were picket signs and chalk writtings, all clearly done by my fellow college students. These signs and posts said "Save Our Library" and clearly proclaimed that the library should be the last to go. As I agreed with them, I thought nothing more of it at first, but then the realization of something deeper and much more sinister crept into my soul. The dark acceptance of general illiteracy. And I do not just mean in terms of inability to read, but also those people who choose to go through the many days of their lives without truly embracing literature.
In all fairness, the illiteracy rate in the United States is lower than it was in 1970, a fair 6.9% of Americans are illiterate. However, it has become an all too often occurrance that people in my family or close-friends network might say something like, "The last time I read a book was when ________ made me." More often than not, Mr./Ms. _________ was a teacher or parent, someone in an authoritative role who forced said person to read. A horrifying amount of Americans watch television, listen to music, and chat online or text through phones rather than sit down and join the adventures of Huck Finn and his friends. More often than not, if a book is never made a movie, Americans know nothing of it.
And sadly, this assessment extends to college students. Granted those still in school have a tendenancy to read more often than others who are in the working fields, but I still know of a large portion of the college student populace who are still not using Libraries to their fullest advantage. I, myself, have built up a fairly large personal library and thus have no need to visit Public Libraries, but when I was a kid, my most cherished possession was my library card. And I went often, and read until there was nothing in the library that seemed to catch my interest.
With this decrease in literacy, I have noticed a decline in vocabulary and grammar. The other day, I was walking behind two girls who were discussing their lives. I have heard that I have a personality that silently enters and exits from situations that it is not inherently a part of, and so I managed to observe, unnoticed, these two as we walked in the same direction. They were having a conversation about the vicissitudes of life, but a certain f-based swear word replaced many a descriptor. This f-based word was used in places that any suitable adjective might be used, but apparently these girls could not find a word that would be sufficient in their explanation. This saddened, because the only real understanding I got of their mood was that everything was effed. Unfortunately, that could mean a whole lot of things.
So back to my point about the library. The signs said "Save Our Library" and I thought, "Sure. But are you going to use it?" If I were a more emotional person, I would have shed a tear at the thought that came to me next: the reason the library was closing down as apposed to someother bulding in Ashland was because there wasn't a sufficient number of patrons to elicit extra funding. That meant that even if we managed to find a way to save the library, it would probably enter the same precarious state relatively soon afterward. If no one goes, it can't stay open. Not even for the potential that there is a child who treasures his library card over his gameboy. I liked my gameboy, but I liked my choose your own adeventures better.
I blame those amongst the American population who choose not to read very often. I know that there are some people who would love to read, but find that they actually ACTUALLY have no time to do so. Soldiers, doctors, paramedics, pilots, and hardworking men and women with families who constantly need their attention. To them, I have empathy. But to the many others, both young and old, who do not read, I say to you, pick up a book and understand the depths of your own imagination. Stop relying on MTV or ABC or FOX to tell you how to imagine. You determine the depths of your creative mind, and no Pokemon game is going to show you how. I do believe that Anime, Games, Movies, TV, Comics and so on do help your imagination flow, and I would be a hypocrite if I said otherwise, but I also truly believe that you MUST balance it with a visit to your local library or personal library on a at least a semi-regular basis. You'd be surprise at what's out there.
I simply say, we should save our libraries, but not in the way that everyone is thinking. I simply say, read a book once a month, and then you will really understand how you can save the library. I simply say, if you want me to save the local library, you must promise to use it. Save our libraries, save our world. Ignorance is the most dangerous weapon in the human arsonal. Go on, see what your mind creates, and have fun living in the world of dreams.