Edgar Allen Beem wrote in his column about the demise of books, reading and libraries. Certainly libraries and the ways people access books and information are changing, but we are far from the last throes of a dying civilization. Although Beem spoke as a former librarian, he actually hasn’t worked in a library for almost 30 years. Libraries have changed a lot.
Thirty years ago the Falmouth Memorial Library circulated 54,856 items (no videos, no DVDs and only 495 recordings.) Five years ago the library circulated 153,441 items. Almost 114,000 of those were books. Last year (FY 2009) the library circulated 190, 525 items and 134,132 of those were books printed on paper. Another 11,178 were books that people listened to. Over 127,000 people came into the library last year for a variety of purposes – books, DVDs, recordings, community meetings, art exhibits, programs, author visits, book discussions and much more. Far from being irrelevant, the library has become, as former state Sen. Beth Edmonds said, “The glue that holds communities together.”
As for accessing information, Beem may not realize how important librarians have become in helping people navigate through the overwhelming morass of information available on the Internet. Nor has he taken into account the fact that libraries have been at the forefront in providing access to reliable, reputable resources and databases.
Although Beem may not be a regular library user, many people in our communities are. It is way too soon to write our obituary.
Lynda L. Sudlow, director
Falmouth Memorial Library