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The public library in my small West Texas hometown was my childhood haven. It was cool inside when the sun was blazing hot outside. It was clean and quiet, unlike my home with four siblings. It was my escape to other worlds, like that of my favorite character, Pippi Longstocking.

Libraries need us. Loud and organized people are effectively banning books and physically threatening librarians and library patrons. To thank a librarian for their service is not enough. It’s time to speak up.

The recent attacks on books, libraries and librarians are unfathomable to me. Libraries are not only magical havens for children’s stories, they also serve our local communities and society at large. Libraries are in the vanguard of early adaptation of technology and are transforming their buildings into collaborative learning spaces. They provide services that many nonprofit organizations and local governments cannot provide on their own.

A few examples are:

  • Students can get help with their homework and have free access to wi-fi.
  • Job seekers can take free classes to earn their GED, improve their computer skills, and learn English as a second language (ESL).
  • Seniors can join a book club or use the makerspaces.

Can you imagine your community without libraries, where school libraries are repurposed into “discipline centers,” as proposed by a large urban school district in Texas?

Through books we learn new skills, experience empathy, joy, and sadness safely on the page. Students can sharpen their research skills because their curiosity is piqued by something they read.

Libraries do not depend on donations from individuals, but they do depend on funding from the city. A few receive support from private and family foundations and some libraries get additional support from nonprofit “Friends of …” organizations.

Here are a few examples of we can do to counter the loud crowd:

  • Attend city council, school board, and library board meetings and speak on behalf of libraries.
  • Write a letter or email to the governing entity like the library board, city council, school board, school superintendent or principal.
  • Volunteer at your public library or school library.
  • Join the Friends of ______ that supports your library.

We cannot be silent.

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