Somebody emailed me this week, lamenting the decline of libraries in a particular region of the country. Presumably, politics are involved in the equation, but it also made me wonder when I last visited a library as a patron (not for a book signing). It's been years.
Are libraries becoming less necessary because most people have all the access to books that they want without them via e-readers, Amazon and bookstores? Retailers that sell e-books offer thousands of them for free. Secondhand stores offer paperbacks for a quarter. And private lending libraries are becoming more popular. If you want to read and don't have a lot of money, more options exist now than in previous generations.
But niche style libraries seem to be finding a place.
A couple of months ago, I told you about Laura Moulton, The Street Librarian, in Portland, Oregon who runs Street Books - a bicycle powered mobile library that lends books to people who live outside or are living at the margins. Take a few minutes to watch this video that highlights her fantastic work.
In the video, she says the books she offers often connect people who wouldn't ordinarily have a conversation. How cool is that?
Not long ago, I was visiting a hospital and noticed a lending library located right outside the gift shop. Anybody is welcome to take a book or leave a book. Putting the lending library in front of the gift shop was a classy move because it may hurt sales. Apparently, the hospital cares more about making sure that all people have access to books than they do about selling books. I made a return trip a few weeks later to donate a few of my own titles to the library.
And you've probably seen or read about street libraries (not to be confusing with Street Books) in which people plant what appears to be oversized mailboxes in their front yard with an invitation for people to take or leave a book.
The point is, as libraries morph into new entities most of us can do something to support them - whether it's starting or supporting an organization like Street books, starting or supporting a lending library, or starting or supporting a street library. We don't have to wait for politicians.
Now, let's get to this week's thoughts about slowing down and living deeper.
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Have a great weekend!
Lee Warren is a freelance writer and editor who has written twelve non-fiction books, one novella and hundreds of articles for various newspapers and magazines as well as edited more than 50 books that currently appear in print. He's a fan of NASCAR, baseball, tennis, books, movies and coffee shops.
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