There was a discussion recently between New Mexico librarians on whether libraries in this country are a 'right' or a 'privilege'. I am inclined to believe it is both.
Free public libraries have been a part of this nation since it practically was one. As the nation has grown, so have the amount of public libraries. Libraries have become so much a part of our national consciousness, that you could hardly find a soul that would claim they are not a right belonging to all citizens. They are there to serve the public, which covers everyone.
But in economic times like these, tax dollars decline. Libraries are then frequently designated a 'quality of life' service, as opposed to fire/EMT and police services. You might never need the fire and police services personally, but the 'right' to have access to them is safety oriented and very basic. So you might not have access to the computers or materials you use daily or weekly at the library (often because you cannot afford as an individual what the library provides for free), but those safety services will always be available and creating a safer community, whether you call on them yourself or not.
Conclusion: a 'right' can vanish when the money is shrinking unless the public makes it clear that they expect it to be there.
As for being a 'privilege', that also applies. Every citizen has the right to public library services, but criminal activity in a library can cancel that 'privilege', just like federal convictions can cancel the right, or privilege, to vote.
Criminal activity does happen in libraries. Physical and verbal abuse, deliberate theft, damage of public property, all these things are punishable by law. When they happen in a library, those who perform these acts are often banned from using the library again. That privilege is gone. It is a public employee's responsibility (in this case, the librarian's) to maintain a safe environment for everyone who works in or uses the library. It is also their responsibility to protect and maintain public property paid for by the tax dollars that provide the department, the use of which is both a right and a privilege.
- Crafts With Nikkie, a new children's program, will be held on Thursday, August 17th at 4:00 p.m. in the meeting room. Come and make a beaded necklace!
- The library has a new AWE Literacy Station geared for children aged 2 to 8 years old. (See post.)
- Book signing for author of "The Adventures of Stinkerpup" Isis Grayling on Saturday, June 3, from 2 - 4 p.m.
- Summer Story Hour "Make A Better World" is coming! Beginning Wednesday, June 14th, this seven week program will continue every Wednesday from 10 - 11 a.m. through July 26th. (See post.)
- The Arthur Johnson Memorial Library Board will hold their next meeting on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. in the meeting room at the library.
- Are you interested in joining a new Writer's Group? Meetings held on Fridays, at 10:00 a.m. This is for any writer who wishes to meet with other writers. Beginners, experienced, published, unpublished, writers of fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, bloggers - all are welcome.
- Preschool Story Hour is conducted every Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. We read books to the children and there is a project every week. It's never too soon to introduce your children to the library!
- Schedule a meeting at the library. Call 445-9711 to get on the calendar in advance. The library stays open until 6:00 P.M., Monday - Saturday, except for Thursday, when it stays open until 9:00 P.M.