It has been a long, cold, wet spring here in New Jersey, and this weekend was maybe the second weekend that actually felt summerish to me.  At long last, I can look forward to working on the porch and watching the suburban wildlife go past--which includes dogs, kids, people walking to the train station, people with babies, squirrels, rabbits, and for the first time since we've lived here--a groundhog.  Now, I have no idea what groundhogs are normally supposed to sound like, but this guy is loud.  We usually hear his feet slapping the ground when he by past long before we see him.

But like many of the writers here, summer reading for me as a child meant going to the library--and when I moved to my current house, one of the huge draws for me was that it was a few blocks away from the town's branch library.

So you can imagine my dismay when shortly after I moved in, I discovered that the branch had been closed due to a budget crisis. (Happily, due to the hard work of a lot of dedicated volunteers, it has since been reopened on a limited schedule.)

And it's not that I'm unfamiliar with such things.  The town where my parents lived closed their huge and completely gorgeous library for a year due to a budget shortfall (again, it was reopened by volunteers, one of whom was my mother).  

The first elementary school my son attended had no librarian and no budget for new books.

The second has a wonderful librarian, but her job is split between two libraries at two different schools, and she is frustrated by the fact that she simply doesn't have time to match students with books they'd love, or teach them what they need to know about navigating all of the information that is available to them.

Now I could go on and on about how awful this is.  I could write endlessly about the importance of libraries in a democratic society, and the important role that librarians can play in teaching kids how to sort through all of the information they find on the internet,.  I can talk about the importance of having safe spaces for members of our society to gather, read, and learn.  I can discuss at great length how public libraries are one of the few places that actually help with the digital divide by providing free computer and internet access to those who might not otherwise have it.  And I can talk about how for some reason, our society seems to think that libraries are less and less important in the age of the internet when in fact they are more important than ever.

But if you're reading this blog, I suspect I'm already preaching to the choir.

So this summer, I'm going to rededicate myself to supporting libraries in whatever way I can.  And hey, if you want to join me, I suspect there's a library in your own neighborhood that could use your help as well.


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