Are Libraries Still Essential?

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Libraries are the thin red line between civilization and barbarism. – Neil Gaiman


I originally saved the Vox link, thinking that this was a fluff piece; a ridiculous headline that they easily debunked in the article. I hadn’t realized that someone had actually written in favor of getting rid of libraries in favor of Amazon bookstores/coffee shops.

I need to preface this by saying that I happen to love bookstore-slash-coffee shops. Whenever my family goes to Barnes & Noble, I find a comfortable space in the cafe and read or write. I frequently (before Howard Schultz began running for President) went to Starbucks with the specific intention to get something to eat and drink and to write. There is a comic book store that is also a coffee shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that is on my list of places to visit. I love bookstores and coffee shops, together or apart.

However, I don’t confuse them with libraries. Libraries have a whole different feel to them. They also have a different necessity to them. In fact, I’ve just come from my local library. I meet a group of people there once a month for a writing group. We’ve been getting together for about seven years, although they had been meeting prior to my joining them. I woujldn’t have met them if not for the memoir workshop that I began to attend, which not only gave me a wonderful learning environment but was also one of the important things that led me out of the darkness of my depression.

I returned two of my daughter’s books that she had finished reading, and I collected the forms to file my taxes.

In summer, I bring my kids for special programs as well as their summer reading program that includes prizes and a special celebration at the end of the summer. My older son attended a Harry Potter evening in costume and my younger kids met therapy dogs and learned some cooking techniques during two separate events. We’ve attended Olympics activities and Halloween parades. All of these activities were either free or for a nominal activity – one or two dollars.

I almost always see people using the computers, checking their email, searching for jobs, and whatever else they’re doing that they can’t do at home, either because they don’t have access to the internet or because it isn’t safe to (domestic abuse victims and the homeless).

There are several daily newspapers and hundreds of magazine subscriptions.

On my Kindle, I will often have the maximum loan of four library books. I am currently reading Timothy Egan’s The Immortal Irishman. I can hold books and sign up for programs through my Kindle.

Libraries often have local art exhibits, both from local artists working in several different mediums and school kids showing off their artistic talents from art class in school in all grade levels.

I’ve attended concerts and lectures, and will be attending a storytelling event on the first of March.

Last year, one local library had a comic book convention with activities, free items, and displays both to see and/or for sale.

I remember being a kid growing up in NYC and having the bookmobile come. What a special day that always was.

Every community needs a library.

If you don’t believe me, listen to Neil Gaiman; or to librarians.]

What was your favorite thing to do at your local library?

What was your favorite book?​

Tote Bag Activites

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I finally found a way to put my bag obsession to good use. Kids are always bored; at least they think so. One way to combat this life fatigue over the summer is to have a few tote bags ready to go. Just add items to the bag, keep it in the closet until needed.

1. Library Tote

New books to read. Reading lists to bring to the library. Mini-journals (can be homemade) to record books read, minutes spent reading, book summaries and reviews. Bookmarks. Materials to make bookmarks as an additional activity.

Don’t forget to check out your local library for their summer reading program. There is always a theme, prizes, and an end of program event. We’ve done several and they are great fun!

2. Food

This can include new snacks that the family hasn’t tried yet (non-perishable of course). Recipe cards. Aprons for your kids. Potholders. Cookie cutters. These can be used on bread, cheese, etc. If you know you’ll be using this bag you can add in the ingredients for something specific for that rainy day. Grocery list for food tasting.

3. Surprise Movie Tote

Choose a popular movie that your kids haven’t seen or have only seen once in the movie theatre. Include microwave popcorn and individual boxes or baggies of candy. The movie theatre boxes are sold at Target and Wal-Mart for $1. You don’t have to buy the movies either. Check out the DVD section of your library or Redbox. Netflix also has a DVD subscription service, but that is slightly more expensive (although still quite reasonable).

4. Summer Cleaning

Cleaning is always more fun when, well, it’s not really, but some kids really do like to clean. Have a list of chores in the bag with points assigned to it, like a scavenger hunt. In place of a list, you can use (or make) a six-sided die so the choices are truly random. Set the table for dinner, fold the laundry, fold someone else’s laundry in the house, put the sneakers away, make your bed, etc.

5. Pinterest

Pinterest has some really great boards for kids’ activities. You can get started on making some Christmas gifts as well as gifts for your upcoming teachers. By this time, your kids should know who next year’s teacher is and could make a little welcome packet for back to school.

I’ll have some recommendations tomorrow for you to check out. School is almost out; what are you waiting for?

What are some of the things you can think of mjaking a tote bag activity for? Answer in the comments.