A love letter to my library

*We interrupt this regularly scheduled post about writing and the writing life to express incredulity about the proposed cuts to public libraries in Toronto.*

As part of the city’s business planning process, Etobicoke Councillor Doug Ford is proposing cuts to public libraries across the city, including the closure of branches in neighbourhoods that need them the most. And it’s not going to win him too many votes.

Canadian literary legend Margaret Atwood is raising no small hell about this on Twitter—despite Councillor Ford’s assertion that he doesn’t know who she is. She’s urging Torontonians to sign an online petition to save public libraries: http://ourpubliclibrary.to/

As a writer, reader and lover of the written word, I can’t say enough about public libraries. (I wish I could say that I met my husband at the library, but no, he picked me up at a bar.)

I thought I’d share the top ten reasons why I love my local library:

1)      Free books! Where else can I browse, sample, devour, and skim through as many books as I like, for as long as I like, and even take some of them home with me. Yes, I know our taxes pay for this privilege. I will subsidize libraries, gladly.

2)      Free magazines! I am a magazine junkie. It just doesn’t make sense to pay for subscriptions to dozens of print copies of magazines when I can read them at my leisure at the library. Makes more sense financially and environmentally to read them at the library too.

3)      Free Wi-Fi! While I may not have trouble accessing the Internet at home or work, not everyone is as connected as I am.

4)      Infinite research resources! Not only does the library hold pretty much any reference book I would ever need, it can also help me access online resources (through databases and indexes) and access to books at other libraries through interlibrary loan.

5)      There’s coffee! Yes, many libraries have gone the Chapters route and brought beverage and snack vendors into their branches. And even if your local branch doesn’t have an on-site coffee house, most libraries are located in areas with easy access to fast food and drink.

6)      No judgment! Libraries are long-time champions of freedom of speech. Hearing librarians speak out against censorship brings out my feisty activist side.

7)      Events for writers! My library hosts writing contests, programs for young writers, book signings and readings, and connections to the literary community, all in one spot.

8)      The next generation of readers and writers! That little huddle of toddlers listening to a book being read aloud or planning their Stuffie Sleepover (so cute!)? They’re going to be the readers, writers and reviewers of the future.

9)      It’s not just about the books! Get all your culture in one spot with CDs, DVDs and even movie screenings at the library.

10)  It’s all about community! My local library is a meeting spot, a quiet place to study, a living room, a neighbourhood hub, and the literary and cultural soul of my city.

Chime in, writers—why do you heart your local library?



Filed under Inspiration, News, Writing resources

7 responses to “A love letter to my library

  1. When i last bought books at Chapter’s I donated to a book fund for the local schools as their funding is being cut too. Years ago my parents arranged for me to spend time after class at the city library as we were rural folk and didn’t have a local library. I’ve even blogged about this experience. The main thing is that having acess and time in the library prepared me for university and my teaching career. As a teacher my love of language and reading was my legacy to my little students. By the way, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Margaret Atwood’s work! She is an excellent leader for the cause!

  2. Spelling error on my last comment…”access” it should be! I think corrected spelling has something to do with adequate library funding!

  3. Maria McDonald

    Thanks for the comments! I like the idea that a library is one way of encouraging lifelong learning in the community, outside of the school system. (And no worries about the typo–I’m just hopeful nobody saw the first version of this blog post before I fixed an error. Talk about tweeting dangerously.)

  4. Great post! There is something really special about libraries, what a dirty rotten shame to propose cuts. Umm, is that you hiding in the library stacks?

    • Maria McDonald

      Ha, no it’s not, but I did spend a lot of time in libraries–and not just reading. I worked as a “page” at Stauffer Library at Queen’s University (which means I spent many hours of my undergrad life shelving books) and was also a marketing assistant at Burlington Public Library. Great places to hang out *and* work!

  5. I’m nannying for a young family this summer, and we spend most of our hot, humid, and otherwise miserable Carolina days in the local library. Each of the three has taste entirely different from the others’, but when we read them aloud, they all huddle around to listen, as excited about the Magic Tree House as a graphic novel. I can’t help but acknowledge how important libraries are in the early, formative years, and I’m grateful that the outpouring of money and volunteers in my area has kept the local branch open.

  6. kp

    Well said….every time I go to my local library, I am amazed all over again at what a gift it is. The lower floor is full of kids and moms for the public reading. The main floor is abuzz with people of all ages reading the newspaper; looking for books, videos and audiotapes; and using the computers. Our library also houses the local employment office! The library is one of the few community meeting places that brings people of all ages together!! Kp

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