This is a week to be grateful. I’m grateful for many things, including libraries. I like to visit them. I like taking my kids to them. I like writing about them. It makes me sad whenever I hear that a library has to cut staff or services or that it can’t buy the materials it wants to share with its patrons. I’m sorry when I read that public libraries are caught in the middle between publishers and Amazon.
These are not flush and easy times for many libraries. You’ll get no argument from me on that point.
So here’s a question for you: Does it help libraries when a media outlet decides to call a series “Libraries in Crisis“? I mean this as a serious question.
The choice of headline reminds me of an article I saw an article not long ago–I can’t remember where–that advised parents and teachers not to play up the victimhood aspect of bullying. The article had no tolerance for bullies. But it made the point that if you keep telling someone she or he is a victim, you make that person feel powerless. That adds to the damage already inflicted–not exactly the best empowerment strategy.
On a much more benign level, consider how you feel when somebody tells you looked tired or sick. You feel worse than you did before. Does the same principle apply to institutions–libraries, for instance? Does crisis talk sell libraries short? Does the media help them more when it focuses on specifics and nuances and, at least sometimes, on what’s going right for libraries?
Here’s more about the series:
In a new Huffington Post series called Libraries In Crisis, we’ll be looking at how today’s libraries are about more than books. We’ll show how they can be a community resource where reliable information and guidance is provided, free of bias and commercial influence.
This occasional series will look at the economic reasons for the current situation, and its consequences throughout the country. It will showcase models for library evolution, and hear from prominent voices about what makes a viable and vital library system.
That I can get behind, although I wish they hadn’t felt the need to say that “libraries are about more than books,” which implies that books are something to be a little ashamed of. Even the most un-bookish bean counter probably knows that by now.
Librarians and library fans, what’s the best way to give libraries a helping hand?