A few years ago, I attended the 129th annual American Library Association conference in Washington DC. It was something that nearly overwhelmed me. I love words… books… libraries, so being surrounded by some 10,000 or so librarians from all over the world was exhilarating. Salman Rushdie, John Grisham, Sue Monk Kidd, and other authors were there as well, speaking and signing autographs, though I don’t think they saw me. (And there I was waving like mad.) The American library is definitely going through growing pains. It seems to be trying to redefine itself for a culture that is losing touch with the printed page. For years now, the libraries in my community have gone beyond the printed page to offer music CDs, movie DVDs, e-books in various forms, ornate cafés, free meeting rooms, employment workshops, dance lessons, and online access for patrons. Obviously, books still line the shelves, but many seem to be growing a bit dusty. Now, I prefer the printed page, mainly because I love the feel of a book in my hands, but I certainly see the growing influence of e-books and other electronic media. Ultimately, it’s the content that is the vital issue, whether it comes from pulp or some electronic process. I’m certainly not a Luddite fighting against the changes of this new age; change can open amazing doors. I will say that the book is far from dead. When there’s one you love, having it on the shelf is like having a memento or souvenir of your journey, and memories can stir the most priceless emotions. How are the libraries doing in your part of the world. Are they thriving or just getting by? Do you have suggestions to help them succeed? Have you requested books or other items for purchase and sent them your “vote” on what should be on the shelves? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
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