When I was little, Mom used to take me to the book mobile. I could get 5 books. Mom could get as many as she could carry and push my brother in his hog chair. This was basically a straight back chair on wheels that my parents used as a wheelchair for my brother in the days before he was on Social Security. Someone welded the chair’s metal frame to two wheels and when you laid it back, it rolled. Why it was called a hog chair, I have no idea, but that’s what my mother called it. So off we’d go to the book mobile to get our books and I would skip down the road to our car, happy as punch with my five books until two weeks later, when the book mobile would come to our rural area again with more books for us to check out.
When my three were little, we’d go to the library. When they were five, our library would let them get a library card. It was their first official government ID card. They each carried it proudly. We’d go and they’d get their books and we’d come home and they’d read to me, or I’d read t to them. The older two would read to their sister. When our two weeks was up, we’d go again.
This week, libraries have been in the genealogical news as many are shutting their doors due to lack of funds. Google is scanning books and putting them online. Many people already read books on the Kindle, a book reader. Is the wave of the future to read books online or on a computer and no longer have libraries and book mobiles? Will my great grandchildren listen to my children talk of libraries in much the same way I listen to my grandmother speak of the horse and buggy? Sure if things are held online, anyone in the world can view them, but will there be a cost to do so? Ancestry already charges an arm and a leg for genealogist to view the census, and it’s not a one time fee. So if I want to view the world’s libraries, will I have to pay an annual fee? Who will own these libraries? Who will own the copyrights to new books? Will poor people have access to books, films, manuscripts, if they don’t have home access to internet, computers, modems? Wasn’t that the purpose of our great library systems to give access to these great books to all the people of the nation, not just the wealthy?
Yes, I realize libraries are expensive, and when I visit our local one on any given day, I am usually the only patron there unless they are doing a Mommy and me class for preschoolers, or a genealogy class, or a computer class. Libraries are big buildings that have to be heated, cooled, staffed. Taxes have to be paid on the land. They have to be centrally located, and have to have security for the safety of their workers and patrons alike. They are money pits on government rolls. They use a lot of funds, but bring in very little. Books fall apart, computer equipment becomes obsolete. Staff has to be constantly retrained to use new equipment.
So if your city’s library is still open, stop by and visit today. Say hi, congratulate them on a job well done. Enjoy the AC. Read a book or two, check out a book, or two. This just may be the good ole days.