Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Three mothers battle to save school libraries

When I was growing up on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean I spent many blissful hours at the British Council Library. Being able to go to the library and to borrow books made the long hot summers bearable. Then, when I was a teenager, I worked as a library assistant, helping to manage my high school library. It was a job I was enormously proud of.
Now here I am spending my life surrounded, literally, by books. Just like my younger self, I cannot imagine what life would be like without books and libraries. When I first moved to Ashland, Oregon, a year ago I was horrified to discover that the town's library was closed and had been in this lamentable state for months. The county and state just did not have the money to keep the libraries in this area open. Finally, to my great relief, the people of the town of Ashland stepped in. We were all asked if we would be willing to pay a little more in taxes so that our library could reopen. We were willing to do this and now our splendid library is up and running again.
Recently I read an article about three mothers who have been trying to get the state of Washington to stop taking money away from its public school libraries. For some children, the books in their school libraries are the only ones they get to read. School libraries also provide another priceless service; they are a place where children who don't have computers at home can learn how to use the Internet. Without this resource they will leave school not knowing how to tap into the World Wide Web.
To me this is a frightening thought, and I decided that I would share the story of these three courageous and determined mothers with you. You can read the complete story on School Library Journal . You can also visit the online petition to add your name to the list, and to thus show the powers-that-be that you support this cause. In addition you can visit the Washington Coalition for School Libraries & Information Technology website for more information about this story and the campaign.
If you live outside Washington State you might well ask why you should care about this campaign. The way things are going these days your state might be next. With libraries and book friendly organizations like RIF losing money left, right, and center, we all need to help one another save what we hold dear.

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