Everyone, our libraries are in trouble.
Libraries are facing budget cuts all across the board, even as they face increased demand during this economic downturn. Most likely, your local library has been affected. When I walked back into the public library next to my college in September, I found a handout describing just how badly their budget was cut and what we, the patrons, can do about it. And I’m someone who shuttles between suburban and urban environments; I can only imagine it’s worse in rural communities. But we can help.
During Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I had an idea. I always give a donation for the holidays along with gifts for my friends and family, and I’d already decided back in September that this year’s donation was going to go to a local library. My donation will, mostly likely, buy or process just one book. In the grand scheme of things, a drop in the bucket, albeit a helpful one. But as we rustled about and generally made ourselves known in September, I realized something—I’m not just one person. I’m part of a community, a community that loves books and, therefore, loves libraries. Together, we are strong—and together, we can make a difference at our local libraries.
I use libraries everyday. I’ve got a stack of library books on my desk right now. I mean, what part of “free books (and CDs and DVDs)” doesn’t just blow your mind? Back in October, Seanan Maguire wrote a brutally honest piece about her ambivalence towards the idea that the print book is dead or dying, pointing out that thinking digital readers are the only future of reading is essentially saying, no matter how you intended it, “Poor people don’t deserve to read”. While her post focuses on print books in general, she also notes that libraries are wildly important. As technology develops and access to information changes alongside it, libraries are even important. They are the great equalizer in an increasingly uneven society—anyone can walk in, get a library card, and start learning, regardless of financial status. What could be more wonderful, more subversive, and more powerful than that?
This December, I want book bloggers to donate to their local libraries, the ones that they use the most. I don’t have a fundraising goal I want to meet or a minimum donation or anything like that. That’s not the point. The point is giving back to your local library, no matter where you are. I’d like you to think about what your donation will do for your library. You don’t even have to donate money. Consider donating books, especially free review copies, to your library. They can either place them into circulation or sell them at a book sale to raise money. Check with your local library to see if they’ll take your donations. If you don’t use your local library or don’t have a local library, think about donating to a foundation that will use your money (or your used books!) to help a needy library. The American Library Association has a list.
I want Bochus Yule to become an annual event that unites the entire book blogging community, hence the Mr. Linky below. Please feel free to use the image above in your posts. I also thoroughly recommend using the hashtag #bochusyule on Twitter! If you feel comfortable talking about your local library and your donation, by all means, link a post about how awesome your library is (I’ll be doing this), but if not, just link your blog. The more book bloggers on board, the more money libraries get, and the more everybody wins. And even if you can’t participate at all, I would be more than grateful for a signal boost.
(The name is very literal Old English for “library Christmastide” because I know jack about Latin. Somewhere, my French Catholic and Irish Catholic ancestors are shaking their heads at me.)
This week has been a bit rough. It was the last week of full classes, my film depreciation society’s first live event, an impromptu holiday show for my theater organization, and some other stuff. In any case, I’m kind of glad it’s the end of the semester, especially with my trip to Ireland looming on the horizon. I did manage to get through Why I Let My Hair Grow Out this week, which had been lent to me by my next-door neighbor, which I didn’t care for, and I’ve started on Born Round, which has been enjoyable so far.
Tor/Forge is giving away a Sisterhood of Dune bundle until December 9th; you need to sign up for their newsletter. The Baen Free Library is full of free downloads, including The Shadow of the Lion and On Basilisk Station. Night Shade Books is offering Butcher Bird and Grey as free downloads at the moment. Vertigo Comics is offering free downloads of the first issue of several series, including Fables, The Unwritten, and Y: The Last Man. (And you will go download The Unwritten.) Small Beer Press offers several of their books as free downloads, including Kelly Link’s Magic for Beginners. If I’ve missed your giveaway or freebie, drop me a line!