Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Library as Entitlement


Our library series has not exactly been what one might call a page turner, but we felt that it was important to the little communities which we have visited. Those of us who live in larger urban areas tend to take libraries more or less for granted. We usually feel that libraries are just...there. Except for dedicated readers, most folks consider the library as a necessary, but uninteresting place. It's a place to which we were dispatched to write term papers and undertake endless research projects on topics which could at best be considered soporific.

The average person thinks of a town's library as they might their water works or post office. It's considered some sort of utility itself. Just like the water works, nobody misses a library until they need one. A library might even be considered an "entitlement", that dangerous expression used to refer to something which one wants, but does not wish to pay for or work toward. Following this corruption of logic some feel that we are owed a library.

Above, we demonstrate that the Holly Hill, SC, library isn't much larger than the Mustang. Of course, the number of books the average citizen reads can fit easily in the Mustang's tiny trunk, a space once described by an automotive magazine as having just enough room for a six pack and a bikini. That library is kept alive by dedicated staff and volunteers who still believe that citizens deserve one.

The Holly Hill Library just as the one in Elloree and many other small South Carolina towns was begun by a book club. These were unselfish and optimistic folks who wanted to grant the gift of books to their neighbors. They clearly feel that the future belongs to the informed, the educated, those who want to learn. Certainly there have been home bound folks who through dedicated reading learned more about the world than their neighbors who have taken Carnival Cruises to every point on the globe.

With the boundless resources for information on the internet and ever increasing forms of entertainment, the library is hard pressed to survive. It is, however, an enrichment to any community which cannot be easily figured. Many eager minds deserve a library within reach, but it is certain that this is not an entitlement for which no effort or expense is required.


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