For quite a while pondering what I call “The Library situation,” I’ve heard much conflict and it bothers me. I don’t know salary comparisons, but I don’t like the idea that we want to have the cheapest salaries in the state for our library staff. I would hope that anyone making decisions about library expenses uses the library services. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the libraries in my life.
As a poor child I couldn’t have bought a book; yet I got 10 books a week at my local library. The library staff suggested books, held books for me, gave me advice. They showed me how to use the reference area; later in life, they showed me various technologies. No matter where I moved and I moved often — 16 elementary schools alone and later many moves because of my work — I found a local library. Registering to vote and getting a library card are priorities.
Through the years I’ve checked out books, tried e-books, learned about computers, checked out videos/CDs, attended programs of various interests. I first took my baby sisters and brother to story hour and later my own children. I’ve recently enjoyed all the creative ideas of Mystery Bags, Crafts, etc. I lived through the pandemic by picking up books outside. When a library is open you can go in and peruse books or charge your phone or work on the internet you don’t have at home, or just sit quietly and read a newspaper or magazine.
In addition, I’ve observed people getting practical help and encouragement. When you have an overworked staff they can’t take that extra time to be extra friendly and call quickly when a book comes in for you either through inner-library loan or “on hold” or to pick up your book for book club. I’m proud to pay taxes for these services; I would hope my city and county would look at the whole picture and not make decisions on how little they personally need the services of the library. Newton library networks with small libraries. It is called a “Public Library” because it serves all economic levels and all personalities. When we damage the services and/or morale of those (staff and volunteers) that care, we lose much PR in our community.