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Monday, February 25, 2013

Weary of Deary

In case you missed it, I wrote something about Terry Deary's anti-librarian rant over at the great Book Riot. What I'd like everyone to take away from the piece is that there are ways to support your local library RIGHT NOW. Here's an excerpt from Book Riot:

"In truth, the problem is much larger than Terry Deary himself – the media has been getting libraries wrong for a long time and it doesn’t look like the issue will resolve itself anytime soon. Instead of angrily blogging about it, however, as I’m wont to do, I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf and try to offer positive solutions – or at least get a dialogue started regarding possible solutions. (Don’t worry, though: if others angrily blog about him, I will read the posts and shake my fist at the sky in solidarity.)

There are things we can do that don’t include angry letter writing, angry blogging, or Deary book bonfires. I’ve listed below five ways to support libraries RIGHT NOW. These are simple, very obvious (hey, sometimes we need reminding) tips that librarians talk about all the time, but they can have a big impact if they are done by enough people in enough communities.

1) Dust off your library card and actually use it – check out books, ebooks, DVDs, anything.

Attend library programs. And once you’ve done these things, be vocal about it! Tell your friends and neighbors how the cool things that are provided by the library (you know, in case they forgot). Word of mouth is essential when it comes to library promotion.

2) Write to your local politicians about how the library benefits you.

Politicians tend to support what communities want them to support, so don’t be shy about letting them know how swell you think libraries are. And if your town has a library budget vote, get on out there and vote in favor of it, why dontcha? Money talks, after all.

3) Speaking of money: you can always donate some to the library!

It will always benefit you, the patron, whether directly or indirectly. (Also, if you have outstanding late fees, don’t be ashamed. But do step up and pay them if you are able to. You’ll feel better and the library will thank you.)

4) If you have kids, teach them to see the library as a place that holds opportunities for both education and entertainment.

Take them to programs like storytime and Arts & Crafts and gaming. Get them a library card at an early age. Make going to the library a fun family experience. (By pure coincidence, my best friend from childhood emailed earlier today and told me that she took her one-year-old to the library for the first time over the weekend and he seemed to love it. It warms the heart, I tell you.)

5) If you happen to be a member of the media or a journalist (or anyone, really), PLEASE do some research.

Make sure you’re not spreading around blatantly false information NOR presenting opinions as cold hard facts – like in this reaction to/defense of Deary: 'People who borrow books for free wouldn’t go out and buy them' and 'No one visits a library for the reference department any more.' What? No.
So, now it’s your turn: how do you use your library? If you don’t, what can potentially be done to change that? And do you have any other suggestions for concrete ways to support libraries? Let’s stick it to the man and show him just how relevant we are! (With the 'man' being people like Terry Deary, “we” being libraries, and “relevant” being AWESOME.)"

I'd love to see some of your comments/reactions either here or on Book Riot. Thanks for reading, and thanks for supporting libraries!



  1. You suggest very good ideas. I hope people follow those ideas and I will encourage my customers to do the same.

  2. What about donating books rather than just money?

    1. That's tricky because some libraries (such as my own) do not accept book donations. You'd have to contact your specific library to see if that would be beneficial to them.

  3. When my kids were growing up, we treated library cards like the privilege that they are. They didn't just get a card when old enough, they had to EARN it. Over the period of a week, we gave them several lessons on how to use the library, and where to find the different things that a library has to offer.

    Once the lessons were done, they had to take (and pass) a 20-question test that was graded (very kindly, I might add) by one of the REAL librarians. Only then were they lucky enough to get their own card.

    Do my kids appreciate the library? You bet they do.

  4. Deary has the right to make any ridiculous remark he wants, but libraries are equally free to stop buying his books, which I will do. Very good post on how to support your local library-- and I do all of them! (My children only had to learn how to write their names to get their cards, but my 20 year old paid for a replacement card so that she could keep the original one with her four-year-old signature as a keepsake. One of her first acts at college was to get a public library card, so I think she uses libraries well!)