Libraries are about more than books

by tosca on Monday, August 27, 2012

"As a child, my number one best friend was the librarian in my grade school. I actually believed all those books belonged to her."
~ Erma Bombeck

Libraries are about more than just books. Right? Right. Libraries are community spaces where people come to socialise, learn, study, create, celebrate. (And possibly lots of other words that I hadn't thought of at the time I wrote this post). I know this. I believe this. As much as I know it, though, I find it a somewhat disturbing statement. If libraries are about more than books then maybe we need to put that to the test and remove the book element altogether. Just take it away. If we do that - and by 'we' I mean 'libraries' and not the organisation I work for in particular - then what are libraries about?

It's all right. Take your time. I'll wait.

What are libraries without that book component? Internet cafes? Photocopy shops? Fax senders? Teachers? And if so, what are we teaching? And if so, why do we require a library qualification instead of a teaching qualification? Are we research teams? What are we? Can we definitively state what our purpose would be in that instance? If not, why do public libraries sometimes work so hard to dispel the truth: that we have books, that we spend quite a bit of money on books, that we have experts whose sole purpose is to know what to buy and for which parts of your town/city? Why are we ashamed of the books? Who says we can't be about books AND other things? And if we are going to admit that we have books, then let's do it properly and promote the crap out of them. Without apologising or qualifying.

Well. Shoot. Two posts in one night.

4 comments

you take away the books and i'll kill you!;)

by breve711 on August 27, 2012 at 9:10 PM. #

Lots of thought provoking questions there! In the 80's, where my first library memories were made, libraries were a place where your mum could give you a billum and no one laughed at you.

by Freya on August 27, 2012 at 9:13 PM. #

@breve711 - *snorts* as if!

@Freya - new word for me! As in string bags?

by tosca on August 27, 2012 at 10:22 PM. #

Don't tell anyone, but I'm always wondering why libraries have to be about more than books.

by bobinrob on August 28, 2012 at 8:13 PM. #

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