It has been brought to my attention, by fellow book blogger Corey Wilde over at The Drowning Machine, that every single one of the public libraries in Philadelphia are being shut down as of October 2. Apparently, there is a legistative issue with the state budget – as in, they don’t have one and can’t agree on one – which will result in the closing down of all public libraries in the city due to lack of funds. If this isn’t indicative of everything that’s wrong in this country, I don’t know what is. How does this happen here, right now? It’s inconceivable, really, yet a firm reality. Baghdad is burning, Alexandria’s library is lost, Philadelphia can’t read.
Of course, this goes far beyond mere books. According to the Free Library of Philadelphia blog, the libraries are “the largest provider of internet access in a city where 41% of homes lack web connection” and over 700 jobs will be lost with the closings. How can a legislator in Pennsylvania get up in the morning knowing these facts, knowing that their complete inaction is leading to the closing of these vital institutes of learning, bastions of knowledge, and safe havens for Philadelphia’s youth? I honestly don’t care what the issues in the legislature are that are keeping them from passing a budget – it’s irrelevant in the face of such disraceful, deplorable action. To make this pill even more bitter is the $34 million in federal economic recovery funds that the city has already spent – Philly is eligible for a grand total of $1.042 billion in recovery. Yet here we are, considering a Philadelphia – the birthplace of American freedom – with NO LIBRARIES?!
Just in time for Banned Books Week September 26-October 3.
I don’t know what else to say about this – it makes me sick to my stomach & I can’t even think straight. I will admit that to equate this story to atrocities like the burning of the Baghdad National Library in 2003 or the destruction of the library of Alexandria is naive and foolish, but I will do it anyway. Any loss of potential knowledge and free access to literature is cause for tremendous alarm. I can’t imagine my own childhood without the freedom to escape into the stacks of my local library. Can you?
I know that sometimes its a drag to read an article and have someone just direct you to someone else’s article, but you really need to read this impassioned post by author Cory Doctorow – it is far more eloquent and passionate than anything I am capable of composing.