Neil Gaiman explains the worth and value of libraries


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[fricken obvious]Hooray for Neil Gaiman[/fricken obvious] and all, but, uh, hello American newspapers? Do you see Alan Rusbridger walk by and swoon? BECAUSE HE’S KILLING IT…and you’re lost in “Kim Kardashian discovers local grocery store, calls police”. WTF, over?

Neil is awesome. His wife is awesome. I can’t wait for the new Sandman. I can’t wait until I have time to read his latest book. Libraries are awesome! So much yay!

I just want to say thank you for leading me to such a wonderful article.

Here’s my take on it as recently FBd.

"What a truly brilliant, brilliant article.

"One big take-away from this (among many others) was the line “As JRR Tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.” Yay for escapism through reading, and yay for public libraries!

"And then this: “They were good librarians. They liked books and they liked the books being read. They taught me how to order books from other libraries on inter-library loans. They had no snobbery about anything I read. They just seemed to like that there was this wide-eyed little boy who loved to read, and would talk to me about the books I was reading, they would find me other books in a series, they would help. They treated me as another reader – nothing less or more – which meant they treated me with respect. I was not used to being treated with respect as an eight-year-old.”

“I choked up when I read that, because it exactly mirrors my own experience as a kid learning my way around my local library. Thank you (probably posthumously!) to all the lovely librarians who encouraged me to read everything available back in the late 60s.”

I disagree a bit with this statement:

I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children’s books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading.

While I do not think it is useful to forbid a child from reading a specific book, parents should still talk to them about the messages that books send. If you ignore the vampire/werewolf part of Twilight, you are left with a story of a really unhealthy relationship. A person should not have to fundamentally change who they are in order to feel worthy of someone else. It is not romantic to stalk someone or forbid a girlfriend (or boyfriend) from hanging out with their other friends. Becoming suicidal is not a healthy reaction to having someone break up with you. Unfortunately, these are the sort of messages that Twilight sends to its readers (and some of them even show up in the Twilight-fan-fiction 50 Shades of Gray).

Here is a previous topic of the value of libraries: Why writers should stand up for libraries

So, before people start ranting about how they know libraries are a waste of taxpayer money, here is exactly what I posted in that other topic:

A quick search seems to indicate that library use is increasing and involves more than just being a “wireless hub”:

A 2007 study showed that visits to public libraries increased 61% between 1994 and 2004 ( )

A 2010 study in California showed in a typical day more than one million people visit a library and more than 770,000 items were checked out or renewed ( )

Public programs attract lots of people and seem to have a positive relationship with circulation rates and reference questions (2011 CO study) ( )

Students who attend summer reading programs at public libraries demonstrate higher reading achievement ( )

Parents seem to think libraries are really important ( )

Books in print dominate the physical portion of a library’s collection ( ) (I had to use cached version of the page to read it).

[You can look up a lot of information for specific libraries: ]

What about cost?

A 2004 Florida report showed that public libraries there return $6.54 for every $1.00 invested ( )

A 2008 Wisconsin study estimates $4.06 return on investment for each dollar of taxpayer investment ( )

Colorado libraries show an average ROI of about 5 to 1 (2009 study) ( )

A 2012 Texas study showed $4.42 return for every dollar invested ( )

The sad thing is that anyone should need an explanation.

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Sadly, that’s the sort of world we live in now. :frowning:

I’m slightly sad about that reaction.

To say that “It’s the sort of world we live in now” is to allow it to continue in that way, and almost to condone the decline in literacy. Surely, the correct response is to big-up libraries and make sure they are funded properly, to read to one’s children, to - fukit - encourage all people to read more.

As Neil pointed out - and I agree with him - a more literate population is a more creative population. And we will certainly need to be a bit more creative if we are to survive longer than a little while on this planet in the future.

IMHO, of course!

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Oh, I agree - you are correct. Just because I think it’s the world we live in now doesn’t mean it can’t be made better… In fact the fact that it is the world we live in should make us try and make it better. I’ve certainly done all I can to instil a love of reading in my kiddo (and she does love to read) and we tend to give books as gifts to nieces and nephews, and friends kids.

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