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(This diary is written by an American expat living in the European Union who is a male business librarian who holds a graduate library degree (MLS) and a Master's degree in business administration in marketing).

Libraries are being starved all over America in these belt tightening times in favor of other organizations because the rich don't want to pay their fair share of taxes. This sad reality escapes the attention of most citizens because frankly they have a full plate in America today and they can lose sight of the fact that they're losing their community libraries which can have very tragic consequences.

For example, do you know truly how many books it takes to turn a child, your child, a grandchild, a niece or nephew into a reader for life? No one's home library is going to be big enough to do that. The consequence of not doing it are profound for that child even into adulthood and this has led to some really odd statistics such as the fact that America right now is leading the world in people of middle age in their high school completion rates.  To be clear we should always support the advancement of adult literacy issues but clearly these are matters best addressed in childhood, where a young child can learn the love of reading as a habit which will stay with them throughout their lives creating a better citizen, a more informed voter who can't be easily tricked into voting against their own self interest.

Starving libraries of funding is an old tried and true tactic of censorship conducted by the rich and powerful throughout the ages. Please don't be fooled by the same old story. As librarians, we are trained to resist censorship in all of its guises and embrace intellectual freedom. When they cut library budgets, they make it difficult and even impossible for intellectual freedom to prevail. We must have intellectual freedom in America or we will lose our tolerance and democracy. That's why your support of your library is so crucial. We can't do it without you. We need your help in order to support the maintenance of our community library collection development and collection maintenance budget. Censorship is the opposite of intellectual freedom which is the life blood of any democratic society. Intellectual freedom also fights prejudice and intolerance and opens up our minds and while this is important for everyone, it is really crucial for children who cannot get access to the proper materials without an adequate collection development budget.

There are people who say, "I have more information I could ever use on the internet, why do I need a library?". The answer is because you have more information than you could ever use, that's why you need a library because most of that information is going to be irrelevant to what you are looking for. What you need what we in library circles refer to as low retrieval with high pertinence. That is to say, you only get a small amount of information that is the most relevant information in satisfaction of your information needs rather than getting voluminous irrelevant information that you can't use which doesn't have the sufficient depth and scope. That's why you need a library that has professional collection development and collection maintenance that mirrors the needs of the community as determined by a community analysis conducted by professional library staff.

Libraries also provide internet access to patrons, they provide large collections of music cds and dvd movie type media and they even have games in their collections for young people or those young at heart. They have wonderful collections of all types of books, magazines, newspapers from around the country and around the world. Anything your library doesn't have, it can get through inter-library loan. In tight economic times, your library is a valuable resource that can add value to the lives of your families and communities. Please consider supporting your library today and ask your family, friends and neighbors to do the same. Working together we can make a difference. We can save America's libraries for ourselves and the next generation. All you have to do is care and care enough to get involved. Care enough to make a difference today. You'll be glad you did!

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Originally posted to Democrats Ramshield on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 09:17 AM PST.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.

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