So I needed some work done on the car yesterday. I dropped it off in the morning, but didn’t really feel like spending 5 hours in a garage waiting room. I walked into downtown Montpelier and spent most of the day at Kellogg-Hubbard Library. I don’t live there, so I have to pay for a library card–$37 for the year, the equivalent in taxes that a single town resident pays. For that I get access to I don’t know how many thousands of books and DVDs. I can sit in a comfy chair in a warm, quiet room, and read to my heart’s content. I can go online for half an hour at a time or more (and if I didn’t have a home computer, that would be a lifeline to the rest of the world). I can consult an organized set of reference books and consult professionals when Google fails me.
Having that library available made my day yesterday, and that was just a matter of comfort and convenience. Many people rely on public libraries for job searches, books for fun and education, local classes, and an occasional Internet connection. Some “taxpayer” organizations have proposed getting rid of public libraries in recent years, claiming that citizens can just use their home computers for research and buy books to read. I’d like to write a cogent argument against them, showing how low-income people and children would be drastically harmed by these measures, and what a sound investment a local library is. But I haven’t had my tea yet this morning, so I’ll just share my immediate, honest opinion: if you want to get rid of public libraries as a cost-cutting measure, I would like to punch you right in the dick.