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These days, I'm the director of the American Library Association' s Office for Intellectual Freedom. I'm also executive director and secretary of the Freedom to Read Foundation.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Lincoln Library closes branches

Years ago, I was the assistant director of Lincoln Library, the public library of Springfield, IL. For part of that 3 year position, I oversaw all the branches: North, West, and the consolidated Southeast branch. Back then, as now, there were budget battles, and one of the issues that came up was closing the branches in favor of the big, three story downtown library. But there were fierce battles by the neighborhoods to keep their local branches open.

At the time, I argued that Lincoln Library, a city department, should become an independent library district. But the board and director believed that the library was a unique and interwoven city service. They remained with the city.

And now - as you can see here and here - 23 years after I left, all of those branches are closing. The articles themselves are sad, but sadder still is the city's continued disregard of the value of the library. Saddest are the public comments.

I remain convinced that librarians and their allies must take the initiative. Our culture, at present, continues to be profoundly destructive of public institutions, seems to have forgotten why we need them. If we don't do something to turn that around, then we participate in that decline.

1 comment:

Lee Ann said...

Thank you for posting. Without awareness, the world will continue to turn a blind eye to the destruction of libraries and their value to local communities.