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I love you, brother dear, but you’re wrong about libraries

Friends of the Lincoln Library column
By: Lora Finnegan Special to The News Messenger
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A few months ago, when I told my older brother, Bill, that I had joined Friends of the Lincoln Library, he seemed puzzled. “Why? Who needs a library full of dusty books when everyone has a Kindle?” Bill asked. I know he was teasing me (in the way big brothers do) but he essentially voiced a common misconception: that a library is obsolete in the digital age. It’s a fair question that should be addressed. So here is my open letter to my dear big brother: I love you, Bill, but you’re wrong about libraries. I firmly believe that both libraries and librarians are irreplaceable. And no, it’s not just your little sister feeling the warm glow from happy childhood memories of hours spent in our hometown library. The fact is, libraries aren’t just for books anymore, brother dear. Many folks don’t have a computer, unlimited Internet access or a Kindle at home. The library provides free use of computers and Internet access that is vital to job seekers, students, and seniors. As useful a tool as the Internet is, it augments the library but doesn’t replace it as an institution. Despite how much information is available for free on the Internet, not everything there is accurate (duh!) and not every type of written material is available digitally. Even now, when Google has undertaken the task of digitizing millions of books worldwide, many copyrighted works will never be available that way. Even some online books and professional and technical journals are only available via limited, subscription basis through some libraries. The library is a center for continuing learning. Here at Lincoln Public Library at Twelve Bridges, you’ll find classes of all sorts, reading programs for kids, seminars for seniors and a vital and lively Homework Help Center staffed by volunteer tutors. And our Lincoln library is a vital community center with social programs, lectures, and art shows. I read about a 2005 study indicating that students who “frequently visit well-stocked and well-staffed school libraries end up with higher ACT scores and perform better on reading and writing exams” (for more, go to collegeonline.org and search for ‘Are Librarians Totally Obsolete?”). And let’s talk about librarians, bro. They’re knowledgeable, helpful, professional and endlessly patient. And they don’t come any nicer than the librarians at the Lincoln Library. Can’t get that out of a Kindle, Bill! On the calendar Lincoln artists Cosette Augustine, Jim Brunk, Harmony Byron, Maureen Camozzi and Barbara Iniguez will exhibit works in the library’s Willow Room. The 29 paintings, including abstract, floral, landscape, seascape and animal portraits; are all for sale. The exhibit will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 28 in the Willow Room. Artist Camozzi will be on hand to open the show. The exhibit runs through May 17 at times when the Willow Room is open. On Saturday, May 12, Friends member and local author Jeri Chase Ferris will speak at the Gold Country Authors Faire (sponsored by the Auburn Friends of the Library). Some 25 local authors will be on hand for meet-the-author chats and writer workshops on writing, printing, marketing and business. And Jeri will speak about her newest book based on American legend Noah Webster (published by HoughtonMifflin/Harcourt, it will be out this October). Plus there’s Maria’s Tacos and Burritos, free children’s crafts, and the Hip Hop Congress. The Faire will be held at the Auburn Library, 350 Nevada St., Auburn, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Friends is gearing up for our free Saturday Night Movie series, showing four films made from family-friendly books. The titles we’ve chosen will also be available for later check-out in book form or as a DVD. Mark your calendars for May 19, June 16, July 21, and Aug. 18. Showings start at 6 p.m., with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. Entry is limited to the first 100 viewers and children must be accompanied by an adult; popcorn, sodas, and bottled water will be available for purchase at modest prices. The programs will be held in the Lincoln Public Library at Twelve Bridges, Willow Room. This column is part of a Friends of the Lincoln Library series. Have a question? Contact the Friends at 434-2404, at friendsofthelincolncalibrary.org/ or e-mail FOLL@live.com. Lora Finnegan is a Friends of the Lincoln Library member. This column may or may not necessarily express the opinions of The Lincoln News Messenger.