From April 2014

In Praise of the Public Library

Since my youngest days, the public library has been one of my sanctuaries. It was at the New Castle, Indiana public library that read my first biographies of Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms, and it was there that I came to appreciate classic American cinema through their circulating collection of silent eight millimeter films.

It was also there that I learned to truly love classical music. Since we could not afford to buy lots of records, the library’s collection of long playing records was my infinite source of great music. For me, the library was, and still is, a wonderland. It was a place where I could get lost for hours reading great stories, histories and biographies.

Our fair city of Dallas has an amazing public library system. It has dozens of branches that offer myriad services that go well beyond just lending books and movies. They offer help with your taxes, help getting signed up for health insurance, help finding a job through seminars and workshops that are frequently offered. They give people who can’t afford it free access to the internet. They provide a safe and quiet place for students to study and do research. In a word, the Dallas Public Library is a gold mine of resources for our community.

Yet, this invaluable resource is so low on the public totem pole that they only have enough funds to keep the doors open for just over forty hours per week.

Literacy and access to information is one of the most important building blocks of a strong and free society. The expertly staffed, remarkably modern, thoroughly efficient library system that we have here is a priceless asset. What is appalling is that our city government so under-funds it that it has to be completely closed two days a week, and when it is open, it is open for fewer than ten hours a day.

I encourage you, dear readers, to do two things. First, start patronizing the library to get the books that you want to read and the movies that you want to see. I know that anyone savvy enough to read The Tenor DiariesĀ mustĀ also be an avid reader of books and periodicals. So consider stocking your e-reader with files from the library, or, if you’re like me and still love a thick paper tome, try checking out some books from your local branch.

Second, make your views known to our mayor, our city manager and to our city council. Tell them that this time honored resource is important to you and to your family. Tell them that you expect your tax dollars to be better put to use in making our libraries more available, open longer and able to keep completely current with acquisitions.

The libraries in Dallas are some of the finest in the country. Please show your support by using them and advocating for them at City Hall.