A Sign of the Times

It’s not just car factories that are disappearing from Michigan. Property owners in Troy appear indifferent to keeping their library open. Ironically, Troy’s official motto is “The City of Tomorrow, Today.”

I guess libraries are relics of the past. Note the 1970s architectural style of the Troy Library. Mayor Louise Schilling is pleading with residents not to close it, but she’ll need to put the issue on the ballot. Here’s the Detroit Free Press :

A special election would cost the city about $90,000 but, if the election were held in November, the cost of keeping the library open the additional three months would be about $600,000 — a financial risk for the city if the ballot proposal were to fail, [Assistant City Manager John] Lamerato said today.

And:

Troy voters have twice in the last 18 months rejected millages that would have supported their library.

Remind me to never move to the pathetic city of Troy, Michigan.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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5 Responses to A Sign of the Times

  1. andrewclunn says:

    Are small town libraries becoming useless as the internet becomes more available and useful?

    • santitafarella says:

      There are intangibles to community libraries. They’re symbols that a community values education and diversity in intellectual offerings. Mothers and fathers bring their children to libraries in an attempt to turn them on to reading and book culture. The very meditative calm and relative quiet of a library can be revelatory to a developing mind.

      Imagine being a child who has never been brought into a library and silently perused book shelves or magazines. There’s something that feels deeply wrong about that; a step backward for a civilization.

      Our life priorities are completely skewed when libraries are regarded as expendible.

      —Santi

      • It would be cheaper to just buy the residents Chromebooks and give them access to all the information on the web. 🙂

        Just being pragmatic. I do know what you mean of the intangible of a library. I wonder if it is an emotional bond from our generation that is just rendered irrelevant by technology though. Something “feeling wrong” is a hard basis for $2.4 million a year in spend.

      • santitafarella says:

        Jared,

        My take is that not having a library in a community is akin to the “broken window theory” in sociology: if you have broken windows in a community, it sends signals that crime and neglect are tolerated. Likewise, no libraries send signals that a community’s intellectual windows are broken—that people living there are indifferent to the life of the mind. The presence of libraries is a sign of civilization.

        —Santi

  2. underu says:

    I have to agree with what everyone is saying, it most cases. I absolutely treasure libraries, and even here in the UK libraries are closing fast. It is a real shame and loss. It is a physical feature to our culture – in appreciation of intellect and knowledge. It’s also a time for peace and reflection, which is hard to find in today’s society. If I had the money I would love to open my own library, but a massive one. To keep my library alive and prosperous and joining subscription fee would be advisable, and for people to pay a very small fee for borrowing each book they want to take home, or read it in the library for free. I feel that’s the smallest thing that could probably help keep the libraries alive. People need to contribute, even if it is small. Then people who really appreciate the libraries will put their money where it’s worth it. To me, books are so valuable.

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