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A sad chapter for libraries

In this week's Everything King, Wendy talks about how libraries have done an amazing job of modernization and deserve more money, not less
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2019-01-22 Painswick branch RB 2
The Painswick branch of the Barrie Public Library is located on Dean Avenue in the city's south end. Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday

Books.

There is a special smell, feel and heft to a book.

Inside every one is a wealth of information.

You can take a trip, meet a new friend, learn something or ease your pain.

Declutter queen Marie Kondo says we should all pare down our book collections to 30. She is out to lunch on that.

Books are silently powerful while also speaking volumes.

I was a library monitor in elementary school and remember well the Dewey Decimal System. Likely, some of you do too.

Admittedly, I haven't been inside a public library for ages but still the news of provincial cuts had me sit up and take notice.

According to media reports, the Southern Ontario Library Service and the Ontario Library Service-North will see their budget halved for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

A tweet from the Barrie Public Library called it "devastating."

Interlibrary loans are no more. There will be staff layoffs.

From what I have seen, the "library" as an institution has done an amazing job of modernizing and reinventing itself.

I have such fond memories of Saturday mornings picking out the perfect book to last until the next visit.

I have marvelled at some of the innovative programming being done now to engage the community.

From guest speakers on a myriad of subjects to repair clinics to  book clubs and coffee hours to classes on adult colouring to wartime exhibits to honour veterans.

When the TV show Downton Abbey was big, one local branch held a tea party where patrons dressed up in period costume and fancy hats.

They have stocked e-books, audio books and large print. They have DVDs, Blu-Ray and CD collections.

Libraries have not rested on laurels, but have found ways to remain relevant. That should be praised not punished.

None of us could afford to buy every book we want to read but we can borrow them at any time.

Having a library card used to be a very big deal.  Just like a driver's license, it also meant freedom and adventure.

Some say, "We don't need them anymore because we have the internet."

We do, but it is not always right. There's so much information, it can be hard to locate. Google isn't a replacement for real literature.

Plus, libraries have the latest technology which is great for students or seniors without access.

We need to be exposed to original ideas, new people, interesting locales and different cultures which we can all find in a book.

Financial cuts to education and the arts always bother me.

We need to be more well read, not less.

Cutting funds to libraries doesn't seem smart to me.

Since we will soon be able to go buy beer in more stores and drink it openly in public parks and get alcohol served, for free, while gambling in a slew of casinos, I guess we won't care much about books.

I am almost afraid of the next chapter.




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About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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