What’s good about libraries? V

Library A to Z: VI’m following the A to Z Challenge by posting every day in April (except Sundays) about the importance of libraries. I’m using the Library A to Z advocacy materials and a small selection of quotations in each post.

What good things about libraries begin with V?

Value (money libraries save); values (the things libraries stand for); viewing films & other materials; visually impaired users; voting (finding information on political issues).

There is, of course, one controversial V word: volunteer. Volunteers can be a great help in supplementing a library’s work, I’m one myself, but should never be a substitute for paid library staff. I’ve written on this blog about volunteers before, so I’m not going to repeat myself. In any case, I couldn’t do half as well as Dawn Finch who absolutely nails it in her post The harsh truth about volunteers. Go read it now!

Ok, that makes up for the fact that I don’t have much in the way of quotes to give you! Here’s Kurt Vonnegut:

I am eternally grateful for my knack of finding in great books, some of them very funny books, reason enough to feel honored to be alive, no matter what else might be going on.

Do you have any other suggestions for V?

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Anabel Marsh

I'm a proud Glaswegian who loves to go gallivanting both at home and abroad. Join me in my travels, both historic and current. Credit where credit's due: photography mostly by my more talented other half, John.

12 thoughts on “What’s good about libraries? V”

  1. Hi Anabel .. you covered your Vs .. and Paula has definitely added to that … great thoughts .. value and volunteer .. cheers Hilary

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  2. Have a book blog – I chose vampires! Plenty of those in libraries I would guess! I would be awful library volunteer, it would just be me handing out books like assignments, asking them to bring it back with a 5 paragraph essay on why they liked/hated it.
    @Get Lost in Lit

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  3. Ms. Finch’s experience with volunteers is awful. While my daughter was first in college I worked as a Page in the Edmond Public Library in Edmond, Oklahoma. I was only qualified to reshelve books, collect requested books from the shelves, and check them in and out. Our librarians did the professional work — recommended books for acquisition, recommended books to be withdrawn, located and instituted interlibrary loans, trained us, and dealt with difficult customers, etc., etc., etc.
    After my daughter left school, I quit my job and volunteered in the same capacity until we moved. I didn’t need the money any more, but they still needed my help. My paid employee slot was filled quite quickly. There are always people who want to work at the library. And that library is one of the busiest in the State of Oklahoma so there is plenty of work to be done.
    During the financial and economic crash of 2008, our library boomed. People used the computers to look for jobs. They used resource material (assisted by our able librarians) to write resumes. They took refuge with us until they got new jobs or entered schools or training programs to qualify them for new jobs.
    Libraries and professional librarians are absolutely essential investments in people, communities, and nations. If an economy is ailing, cutting back on libraries to save public funds is misguided at best.
    My husband sums libraries and librarians up beautifully. They don’t just provide access to books, they provide access to information.

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    1. That’s all very true. It’s a big issue here because many authorities have, or are proposing to, turn entire libraries over to volunteers. The view seems to be that it’s only a bit of book stamping, but as you rightly say it’s so much more than that. The volunteer model is not sustainable – even if they are very capable they can still leave whenever they feel like it or only choose to do the bits they want to do.

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  4. our library volunteers were only able to help shelve books – I hate the idea of them replacing paid staff!

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    1. It’s appalling. In the last library I worked in (academic) we paid students to shelve the books. Even so, because it was casual employment, we had the same problems with reliability.

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