Sunday, May 25, 2014

Help our libraries!

This past Wednesday, I was The Author at the Susquehanna County Library Association's annual Author Luncheon. What an honor to speak in front of 60 attendees! The event is a fundraiser for the Library, and Susan Stone, Head Librarian, told me that library fundraising is becoming more commonplace than ever before. Even within the luncheon there was fundraising - a sale of 50/50 tickets, and silent auction for some lovely prints, flowering bulbs, jewelry, and a favorite among the attendees, a 'books and bubbly' basket. I am pleased to think that my presentation may have helped the library raise a few dollars.

What a shame it has come to that. Between deep state funding cuts (thank you, Tom Corbett), consumer demand and need for costly technology, and increased operating expenses for maintenance and heat, our public libraries have trouble balancing their budgets. And yet on a fundamental level, our very existence as a free nation depends on free exchange of ideas. Those ideas are cataloged and stored in our public libraries, and are accessible without charge to anyone who asks. It seems our Public Libraries joins our Public Schools as institutions present in virtually every community in America, providing free access to information vital to our continuity as a prosperous nation and doing so with ever-dwindling funds.

On a recent History Channel show, I learned that Ben Franklin 'invented' and established the world's first free Public Library. One commentator expressed a belief that the free Public Library was actually Franklin's greatest contribution to mankind. Long may our libraries remain free and public.

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