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READ: Or, why I’m okay with being a library poster girl

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I'm absolutely okay with being a library poster girl.

By Cat Viglienzoni — April 22, 2011

So, it’s official. I’m a library poster girl. This poster (at left) is now up on billboards all around the Emerson College campus to promote reading for National Library Week (which was April 10-16).

How I got there: a journalism faculty member nominated me for the poster, presumably because of my hard work and professed love for reading. I’ve been an avid reader for my entire life. And I love libraries – I have both library card numbers (for here in Boston and home in Santa Cruz) memorized.

But this poster means a bit more to me because of my past history with libraries, beyond checking out many, many, many books and movies.

My first job was actually in the local library system at home while I was in high school. I was a library page (and a pretty great one too!). I challenge anyone to shelve four carts of books faster. I loved working there. There are definitely times I wish I was still working there.

But now I use libraries for both academics and recreation. If I’m doing research, a library is one of the first places I’m going to go to get started. But since I’m a voracious reader on a college budget, I also use the public library system to get my reading fix without draining my wallet. (And when you read as many young adult fiction series as I do, keeping up on your own can be an expensive endeavor.)

But it’s also a decent alternative to Netflix – I definitely check out new movies from libraries as well. *Disclaimer: In large library systems like Boston, the wait for those can be a long time.*

Finally, it’s also a great research resource – as my quote on the poster suggests. The databases many libraries have access to often have articles that are aggregated into collections – easily searchable and full of scholarly or journalistic work that would be hard to find elsewhere. Those databases usually require payment to access them, and if you don’t need them all the time, there’s no reason to pay. The library pays for a subscription and then allows you to access the materials without paying. Most of those are online, too, so you can access them from your computer at home.

But back to National Library Week. It’s in April, and generally it’s the second full week. (Next year’s will be April 8-14, so mark your calendars for a book party or something.) The first one was in 1958 with the theme “Wake Up and Read!” This was because in the mid-50s, research indicated many Americans were spending less on books and more on other forms of entertainment – radio, television, and musical instruments. The American Libraries Association and American Book Publishers formed the National Book Committee in 1954 (it was disbanded in 1974) to encourage people to read in their leisure time, among other goals. The library week was developed with the idea that if people got hooked on reading, they would support and use libraries more.
BUT…

If you’ve been following the state of budgets nationwide, you’ll know libraries are facing tough economic times. When the economy worsens and people have less money to spend on books or other media, they often turn to libraries to borrow instead. Or, they use other library services (internet, databases). At the same time, libraries face budget cuts from cities. At home in Santa Cruz, library hours at the branch I worked at (Capitola), were cut drastically, down to being open 3 days a week instead of 6. Boston experienced outcry last year when the library system president recommended closing four branches. That was in an effort to help close a budget gap. Eventually after month of debate, the protests from people in those neighborhoods and in the library system were loud enough that the branches remained open (for now… we’ll see if the conversation comes up again next year).

It’s a reminder of the amount people use libraries – how many parents take their children there to check out stacks of picture books that would have cost them a hundred dollars to buy at a bookstore, how many students go there for those specific academic resources, and how many people are able to read their favorite authors on a tight budget. They are still one of the best resources we have in our society today.

And that’s why I’m okay with being a library poster girl.

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Written by Cat Viglienzoni

April 22, 2011 at 1:20 PM

Posted in Miscellaneous

Tagged with , ,

One Response

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  1. […] doing, seeing as my first job was at a library at home in Santa Cruz (for the full story, refer to this post) and missing books were something I dealt with on a daily […]


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