Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Public Library Rocks My World

The services provided through the website of the Calgary Public Library are getting better and better. Whenever I hear of an interesting book or cd now, I just pop over to the site and, if they have the book in their catalogue, I put a hold on it right away.

But the cool 'secret weapon' is the Sugest a Title form where card holders can suggest books, music cds, audio books, videos, etc. for the library to acquire. I just had my first successful suggestion go through (Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals") - so the system definitely works.

I usually have about 6-12 things on hold at any given point. Some arrive at my local branch within a day or two - some of the more popular items have taken up to half a year to arrive (I think I started at about four-hundredth in line for Michael Moore's "Dude Where's My Country?" when I put a hold on it).

The nice thing about having lots of books on hold, and some of them taking a while to show up, is that I always have interesting new things show up for me to read.

As an activist, I see public libraries as a cornerstone of real democracy. The importance of the egalitarianism of making access to knowledge freely available cannot be overestimated.

Since funding support for libraries is largely determined through usage measurements - I try to make extensive use of the library's resources. Rather than buy books (even if I eagerly want to read something), I now prefer to wait for it from the library. With that, I get not only the joy of reading, but the satisfaction of knowing I'm doing my bit to support these essential institutions.

(Copied from my postings to the Wayground Blog.)

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