It’s Halloween. It’s also the last day of Canadian Library Month. After the events pass, and we move into November, libraries will continue to do what they always do, depending on who they serve. They will provide access to resources, programming for those who need it, and information to those walking through the doors. Sometimes it’s to those clad in pajamas, sipping coffee from the comfort of their home.
People try to frame libraries in dollars and cents. It’s the symptom of today’s society to put things, and people, within a profit margin. What use are you? They ask What can libraries produce? Libraries create a democratic society. They created writers, thinkers, and community. Libraries, like the downtown branch here in Winnipeg, see the price paid by people cut off from school libraries in their youth. Those same people come to public libraries feeling welcome for the first time in their lives. It’s why these same libraries, like Edmonton Public, expanding outreach services to connect people to social services along with reading materials. The price of doing otherwise makes the dystopias of Collins, Roth, and Huxley look like Disneyland.
Amid the databases and non-fiction books, fiction proves the best weapon against ignorance. (Yes, you read that right.) Ken Robert’s report, one I mentioned earlier this month, discusses the shift from consuming information to creativity. It’s not learning things by rote stimulating creativity, it’s reading a novel outside of one’s own experiences, perhaps sparking the next great idea:
People are increasingly aware that creative works feed creative minds and creative minds are highly valued. (Roberts, 11)
What libraries advocate goes beyond bricks, books, and budgets. It does to the heart of what it means to truly be a democratic society, a place with access to information, innovation, and invention no matter a user’s background.