Home Education It’s National Library Week; They Need Us Right Now, and We Really,...

It’s National Library Week; They Need Us Right Now, and We Really, Really Need Them

Rachel Anne Levy: "I do not support censorship, book banning, de-funding our libraries, or limiting freedom of choice in reading"

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Thanks to Rachel Anne Levy for this excellent post:

It’s National Library Week! Today, I showed my appreciation for our local libraries by attending a meeting of the Pamunkey Regional Library Board of Trustees at my own Ashland Library Branch. (I even wore what one of my sons calls my “librarian glasses.”)

I listened to the deliberations of the board as they did the work of governing the library system, I listened to various citizens give public comment, many in support of the work of our libraries but some not, and I was privileged to be able to give a brief public comment myself.

I thanked the Board for their work and for the services that the library provides. Every time I go by there, it’s full and the library provides so many vital services besides just reading and media materials.

I got a little emotional as I talked about how much the Ashland Branch Library means to me personally as a citizen and mother of three. The presence of that library was a major draw to us when we chose to live here in Hanover County almost 15 years ago. I’ve been to many story times (and community meetings!) in the very room where the Trustees met, and I have spent many, many hours in the library, especially in the children’s section with my children when they were young. When my older two were in school and I went with my youngest every week for story time, I would choose and check out books for all 3 kids. On those days, the first question I would get from one son in particular when I greeted my older kids getting off of the school bus in the afternoon, was, “Mom, did you got to the library today?!” But when I chose books for them, I did try to choose books I thought they would enjoy. I will always be grateful that I had that public and shared space to spend quality time with my children–they played and read and I read and supervised them.

Eventually, my children got old enough to get their own library cards. What a proud day! And they would walk over to the library and choose books with the careful guidance of a librarian. Sometimes, they would put books on hold and then get a special call just for them, letting them know the book they were waiting for had arrived! It was magical.

Sometimes, I didn’t care too much for the books my kids chose. Some because they had historical inaccuracies, and others just because they weren’t my cup of tea. Ultimately, this was one of their first experiences making independent choices for themselves, exercising their own agency, and becoming their own people. It was hard, as a mother, to let go, but I did because I knew our values were strong in them, and that we could always have a conversation and set limits. I remember we had to set a policy at home of no Captain Underpants books past 6 pm–they would get too riled up!

I love our libraries. I support our public libraries & library professionals. I support fully funding our libraries at the state level (did you know that Virginia only funds about 75% of its obligations to our 90+ regional library systems?–I’m going to see if I can change that when I’m in the General Assembly) I support our 1st Amendment rights, freedom of choice in our reading & media materials, and freedom of information. I do not support censorship, book banning, de-funding our libraries, or limiting freedom of choice in reading and media materials because I support democracy, our public democratic institutions, and I support freedom.

Let’s hear it for our libraries! (And support them, too! They need us right now, and we really, really need them.)

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