Editor of the Reformer:
As we all grow increasingly more fatigued by the myriad of loss created by COVID-19 I find myself repeatedly coming back to one change that feels uniquely sad and nonsensical. I grieve the chance to walk into the library and choose books for my family. What I lament most strongly is that I am able to enter a bookstore as a consumer and purchase books for my family. This seemingly small difference is not insignificant. If the benefits of libraries were clearly visible in revenue, my belief is that I would be able to continue to walk into libraries and choose books for my family. However, libraries do not directly generate revenue, they do not directly support business and therefore being able to access them physically has been deemed “unsafe.”
I appreciate and understand the privilege that I have to be able to access a computer in my home where I spend roughly 30-45 minutes per week researching and checking out books for my son, who is homeschooled and is a voracious reader. Many library users do not have the same privilege of computer and internet access and I wonder how they are being impacted. During the period of time that the library was open we went every week and it was the most joyous day of the week. Upon entering the library the first time, my son shrieked and said, “Ooooh the library, my most favorite place!” And I felt such joy that we were able to return to a place that invites us to open our minds and discover. Shutting the doors to our libraries is another action that is limiting our ability as beings to grow, change and reimagine the world we want to contribute to and live in.
I also understand that the comfort and health of the library employees and patrons is important. I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable and also we live in a very uncomfortable time where we are perpetually reminded of the fact that being alive is a precarious act, that we actually control very little in our lives and that until we die we will likely be best served to live fully. And I also wonder how we are able to sacrifice the meaning, symbolism and potential of libraries because they don’t fit into the calculable system of revenue generation. How is it that children are able to attend schools, we can buy non-essential goods in stores and we can attend restaurants but we can’t walk down the aisle of the library?
How do we expect to sustain the more invisible life threads of imagination, exploration, discovery education and equal access to knowledge when we close the doors of our libraries?
Guilford, Jan. 13