You may have seen the latest School Library Journal article about what’s happening with the Donnell Library in New York City. The library is scheduled to be demolished in May to make way for a new hotel. Fine. Fancy people need a place to stay–we get that.
Not fine is the notion that perhaps the New York Public Library’s Central Children’s Room, which is housed in the Donnell Library, might not be relocated somewhere else. That it will just fade out of existence. You can read about some of the Central Children’s Room’s charms in our pal Fuse #8′s recent post–she happens to work there.
Among the many fabulous things the Central Children’s Room offers are:
–Baby laptime (awww!)
–A program where kids read with dogs (Hello? Why did I not know about that?)
–Live performances for kids
–A computer program for toddlers (brainiacs!)
–A spring lecture series
–A Children’s/YA Literary Cafe (I would like to cafe there, please)
–Regular parties for kids
–And more. As if we could even conceive of more.
See, here’s the problem: Programs like that need to be shamelessly copied, not discontinued. If we, as book-loving people, don’t care about developing the next generation of readers, and the next, what kind of a sad, text-messaging world will this turn out to be? Children will think words don’t need vowels. They will think new stories only come from video games. I’m sure you can come up with your own horrific scenarios.
It’s easy to think that what happens to a New York library doesn’t affect those of us living in Arizona or California or Texas. But this is one of those issues that seeps into society when we’re not paying attention. Whether you’re a writer or a reader or both, you know we need to build our base, not deplete it. And for any of you who are parents, you know what the written word has done for your children–and looking at the list above, wouldn’t you like to see those kinds of programs available in your community for your kids?
So what can we, ordinary citizens, do? Be big-mouthed complainers, that’s what. Whether it’s on our blogs or in letters or e-mails, we can be big pains-in-the-butts. When we read articles like the ones I linked to above, we can take the time to comment and make a record–treat it like an on-line petition. Or if you really want to be radical, you can actually write to the people in charge over at the NYPL and say that even you, a resident of (not NYC), care about keeping a resource like that alive.
Who knows if we can do anything at this point, but I think it pays to stay awake.