A Dozen Reasons to Give Money to the Library
1. First and foremost: You should give money to the Seattle Public Library because it is so desperately needed. The glib morons at Wired can long-tail this situation all they like, but the truth is that your public library is more needed and more heavily-trafficked than ever, in spite of your iPad and/or Kindle. Circulation of books and materials has risen 20% over the past few years, yet SPL can scarcely afford to procure new books — still waiting on that second Steig Larsson book, ain’tcha? — and they have to close their doors for a week at a time to keep within their shoestring budget. As Emily Dickinson once said, “this is (double expletive).”
2. SPL was recently promised a $500,000 gift from an anonymous corporate donor, provided they can raise a matching amount from the community by the end of December. Your tax-deductible gift will help to separate that corporation from its money, and you can’t tell me that notion doesn’t make you even a little bit happy. Maybe it’s JP Morgan Chase! Don’t you want Chase to part with $500,000?
3. The Library is the source of your DVD viewing. You know it is. And if it isn’t, it should be. Paying Netflix every month to watch junk like “Alice in Wonderland,” “Letters to Juliet” and “Cop-Out?” What are you, a fetishist?
4. SPL’s author readings and book clubs alloow you to retain your snooty NPR cred without the temptation to plunk down impulse money. I love Elliot Bay Book Co. and Third Place Books, but every time I attend a reading at one or the other I spend $50 I don’t have.
5. SPL is helping people to find jobs. Their free web access allows those who can’t afford to pay Comcast or Clearwire to reach out to potential employers in a world that’s becoming less inclined to answer its phone or receive cold-callers.
6. You can’t honestly tell me that you’re glad you paid cash for all those “Twilight” books. I know, you were curious; we all go through that phase. But you could have read them all for nothing. Stephanie Meyer doesn’t exactly need the money.
7. There are free classes to be had — computer basics, ESL, even home canning and food preservation. You can pay for books and DVDs on these topics, but why? Go to the library.
8. Hey, comic book nerds! They’ve got graphic novels, and in every color of the nerd rainbow. (What does it mean?) The Library is gonna help me to finish Garth Ennis’ “Preacher” series, which I perceive as a freaking privilege considering that the “Preacher” collections retail for $15 per volume. And I have five volumes to go.
9. The Friends of the Seattle Public Library fall book sale, an annual event boasting thousands of bargain-priced books for purchase extra-cheap, is doomed to shrink as SPL shrinks. Money paid now will allow the Library, and the sale, to remain gargantuan.
10. Have you used SPL’s app for iPhone and Android? It allows you to search for books and materials, to ask questions of the librarians, and to reserve items and have them brought to the branch closest to you. That app alone is worth money. Look it up in your phone’s respective apps store and try it out.
11. Hey, Wired, I’m sorry I capped on you. To prove that there’s no hard feelings between us, I’ll tell people to go to SPL’s Ballard Branch and read your latest issue, along with a few other magazines they may consider subscribing to after they’ve gotten to know them a bit.’
12. You’ll want to see how this turns out. Our libraries are transforming, like our newspapers and our public transit. I’m certain there’s a place for all these things in the future — despite the iPad, despite everything that’s happened. A small donation now could create something glorious and different in a decade from today, a Seattle Public Library whose utility and awesomeness we can’t even begin to imagine. The future is indeed coming, and Seattle Public Library deserves to be there.
PHOTO BY THE AUTHOR