Wait - am I up again? Already?
Sorry, I'm a little crazed this week, as in, the further I get into this week, the crazier I am. You see, I'm on the board of my library's "friends foundation." If you've never heard of that term, we're the folks out raising funds to support a library's programs because they are usually at the mercy of city or county budgets.
Our library, fortunately, is not wedded to the city, county, or even state. It's a stand-alone unit that gets its own funds from the city's taxes. But that money only covers the basics of salaries, building maintenance, utilities, etc.
The Placentia Library Friends Foundation raises money for special programs and events, and even keeping the library relevant, with computers and training classes.
But I digress. The reason this is making me crazy is that, for the past year, I've been in charge of the library's biggest fundraiser - our Author's Luncheon. It happens this Saturday and has been running smooth as a well-oiled machine, which means everything's primed to go to hell in a handcart.
They put me in charge because I was silly enough to complain last year that they didn't give me enough to do. Lesson learned. I decided if I was going to be in charge, we'd have mystery authors. Everyone jumped on board with the theme of Make Mine a Mystery. We've got two dynamite speakers, Jeff Sherratt and Michele Scott.
Jeff writes noir stories about a defense attorney named Jimmy O'Brien. He's such an engaging guy, I always tease that he could sell books to a corpse. Michele writes everything, and I mean, if it pops into her noggin, she'll get a story out of it. She writes cozies, thrillers, women's fiction, and even young adult. Her thriller, Daddy's Home (written as A.K. Alexander) turned up in the Wall Street Journal's Best Seller list a couple of weeks ago for Fiction E-books.
As you can tell, I'm uber-excited to have these two come and speak at our luncheon.
I get really riled up when I start talking libraries. I want to support them in as many ways possible. I've read the news about library closings. I've heard people say libraries aren't relevant anymore. Sad to say, even members of my local community have said libraries are on their way out.
My answer is that they are more relevant than ever and we need to do whatever it takes to keep them. Why?
For one basic reason: Libraries are, and will always be, the last bastion of free information and education. Yes, you can find almost anything on the Internet. But it's not free. (No, not even with free WiFi at Starbucks.) Not if you're poor. If you are living hand-to-mouth, if you're scraping by on a couple of part-time jobs that offer no health benefits but have you working over 40 hours a week to try to feed your kids and keep your house payment and your car operating, how on earth do you go out and buy a computer and pay a monthly bill for internet service? Even a smart phone can be out of your budget.
But you can go down to your library and get knowledge. We have computers and classes to train you to use them. We have books with information about how to get things done, and books about people who started with nothing and built empires to inspire you, and books that just let you escape from a day of drudgery. We have movies. We have books on tape. We have tutoring programs and children's programs and librarians who are there to help you find what you're looking for.
It's all for your use, and it's all free.
As I watch the gulf widen between the very rich and the very poor, my passion for libraries grows stronger. So, no matter how much crazier this week becomes, or what kind of spinning I will be doing this Saturday, trying to make all of our patrons happy, I know I'm supporting something great. I will do it with a glad heart… a large glass of wine.