One feature of my trip to Haiti was a 24 hour layover in New York. During that day, I visited the library and toured a current exhibit (through March 4, 2012!) called Celebrating 100 Years. This exhibit included a Gutenberg Bible, a diary and harmonica that belonged to Jack Kerouac, a notebook from Malcolm X, an Audobon bird book (about 4 feet tall!) the Declaration of Independence, handwritten by Thomas Jefferson, Mein Kampf (in German), Karl Marx’s Das Kapital (in Russian), a first edition print (only 17 in existence) of the Star-Spangled Banner, complete with typo, and much more.
Libraries are important meeting, studying, researching and gathering places. They are an equalizer, allowing everyone free access to books, Internet, and other resources. The New York library is also like a free museum in the architecture and interior painting, decor, and exhibits.
I’ve had a lifelong love affair with libraries. I would go to story hour and check out puppets and books when I was a kid. The first book I read by myself, Fun Wherever We Are, was a library book. I read hundreds of Babysitters Club books when I was a little older. I completed research papers through college and found music for my wedding at the library. I simply would not be the same person I am today without the existence of libraries.
Unfortunately, the Chicago Public Library system has announced that Chicago Public libraries will now be closed on Mondays due to Mayor Emmanuel’s nearly $7 million budget cut for the libraries. This is not something that is unique to Chicago. Libraries all over the country are closing or running on reduced funding and minimal staff. I understand that it is due to the recession; however, in a time where the public has less money, public programs should receive more funding. Libraries support people looking for jobs, trying to pass tests, and struggling through school. I’m not asking people to donate money or for a public outcry. Just a reminder, if you haven’t been to your local library for a while, check it out. You might be surprised. And if you live in New York or will be passing through before the end of March, I highly recommend stopping by to see the exhibition.