Friday, March 26, 2010

Google and Bookswim Aren't Enough

Netflix will send movies to your door, so that you can avoid that pesky drive across town to the video rental store. With the appearance of Bookswim, that same convenience can be delivered in book form. Who wants to peruse shelves full of imagination and possibility at a local library, search out hidden mysteries, or mess with the Dewey Decimal system anyway? (Speak up now, bibliophiles!)

Perhaps I am a voice in the minority here in the twenty-first century, but I love libraries. I have since I was a child and my mother took my brother and me to find our summer reading list books. Posters of Winner the Pooh and The Cat and the Hat pulled me into a world of wonder that I still feel every time I walk in those familiar doors.

But here we are in 2010, and Bookswim isn’t nearly our only issue. State budgets are in crisis, and hard decisions need to be made. Libraries, with their dusty, relaxed, modest ways, are becoming easy targets of elimination.

The cozy, intriguing aspects of libraries are important, true, but the loss of that facet is not the worst problem at hand. Students are no longer learning to sift through research, to peruse others’ ideas, to evaluate, to analyze, to make up their own minds. Why not? I’ll give you a one word answer. Google. I am a huge fan of Google, myself. I fully admit this. However, if internet search engines become society’s only research tool, superficial knowledge and amateur scholars will be the norm.

Losing local libraries means losing a valuable resource for bookworms and lovers of the written word, but we aren’t the ones who will stop reading. Literacy, curiosity, and analysis skills of future generations will be the casualties.

For that reason, while Bookswim has its appeal, I will stay true to my local library. You should all do the same.

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