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Libraries keep dreams, options, literacy alive

Do you remember your first visit to your local library? I do. Growing up in post-war England was tough. School-leaving age was 15, many kids had jobs at 13 and 14 and it was not considered cool to be smart. The library provided an outlet and an escape from the mundane expectations of society and supplemented a rather basic education.

At the library I could visit foreign lands and understand their customs and people, read about inventions and new ideas and consider goals outside the narrow range of my parents’ and teachers’ expectations. Sadly, libraries are becoming the focus of cutbacks and now have to justify their very existence.

Fortunately, we have a wonderful library in Boulder City and, with a newly appointed director, it should provide children and adults of the city with direction and serve as a wonderful resource. Library cards are free and the library is constantly buying and upgrading books. Unfortunately, with the advent of electronic readers, the library has sometimes taken a back seat, and I am as guilty as anyone. Now that the library has books available for download to electronic readers, this is something that I will be participating in.

I often worry when I see hunched-over students engrossed in their cellphones and other electronics and wonder what is so fascinating? Pew Research Center surveyed teens and found that 63 percent of them text friends every day. This number had remained stable for the past two years, but the number of texts sent daily rose over the previous years.

This survey was carried out in 2012; no doubt the numbers have risen since then. Educators deplore the use of abbreviations used in texting, citing a decline in literacy, but others see this as an exciting new language developing in the younger population.

Not everyone has the funds available to buy new books, and even with a library nearby, the avid reader sometimes hits a dry spell when he or she doesn’t have a pile of unread books available. Did you know we have several Little Free Libraries in Boulder City, where you can drop off one of your read and well-cared-for books and take another? For free!

The one I know most about, having visited and donated books, is Dandelion’s Little Free Library at 701 Elm St., run by Susan Reams (and you can visit with the library’s sweet little dog mascot, Dandelion). Susan’s library is registered with the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce and she keeps the Little Free Library stocked with not only books but packaged and canned food for her neighbors. She even provided books, candies and treats to local children during the summer holidays.

Writer Margaret Atwood has written, “Reading and writing, like everything else, improve with practice. And, of course, if there are no young readers and writers, there will shortly be no older ones. Literacy will be dead, and democracy — which many believe goes hand in hand with it — will be dead as well.” That’s something to think about.

Angela Smith is a Ph.D. life coach, author and educator who has been resident in Nevada since 1992. She can be reached at catalyst78@cox.net.

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