June 18,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, as has been previously reported on the Ridgewood blog , the Ridgewood Public Library is looking to embark on a major renovation . While the renovation was described in glowing terms , the staff noticed the absence of any mentions of books .

Ridgewood Public Library Renovation: What about the books? http://theridgewoodblog.net/ridgewood-public-library-renovation-what-about-the-books/

So we asked reader and an old friend who happens to be a librarian and a voracious reader Jason Vigorito the Reference Librarian at Eastern Monroe Public Library in Stroudsburg, PA. a few questions about books and libraries . Jason has been there for two years and has worked in Libraries for a total of 7 years .

TRB : what is the purpose of a public library?

Jason , “A public library’s purpose is three-fold: it’s an information repository for print, digital, video, audio, and other published mediums; it’s a community center for local residents to gather for various activities; and, it provides community assistance in a variety of ways, including literacy promotion, general education development, charitable work, and connections between various individuals and organizations. ”

TRB : has that purpose changed?

Jason , “Libraries, in the formal community-accessible modern sense, have been around for over a hundred years. Their three-fold purpose has always been standard, however the focus within each has shifted and widened considerably given how times have generally changed. For example, focus on certain forms of print–like newspapers and microfiche–has shifted in a dramatic decrease while digital databases have literally begun from scratch and widened into many niches and accessibility options. ”

TRB: why do people use a library ?

Jason, ” People unfamiliar with libraries tend to think that patrons visit them basically just to borrow books and maybe read newspapers or magazines. That’s only a small percentage of why people patronize libraries. The list is extensive. Some of the many other reasons include: to find a quiet place to study; to grab a coffee and snack (if your library has a cafe, as mine does); to watch performances by musicians and artists; to take a class (like on how to do your taxes, or on personal finance, or work toward a GED, or how to navigate social media); to research local history or one’s family tree; to buy books and other materials at sales; to meet with government representatives in forums; to participate in charity drives; to attend fun activities whether for adults or the whole family; to watch films; to access computer programs and the Internet when they don’t have them at home; to seek refuge when natural disasters hit; and on and on and on.”

TRB : what is the value of books?

Jason , ” If you do an online search, you’ll find some pithy quotes on the power of books. My personal favorite is Dr. Who’s: “You want weapons. We’re in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world. This room’s the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself!” The original Twilight Zone tv show had some great episodes on the subject, as well. It’s possible that books’ value can be broadly applied in two ways:

First, they are travel guides–they take you from the here and now and transport you to the there and/or other times;

Second, they are teachers–they expose you to new ideas and perspectives. Books are the torches that pass ideas down through the ages of otherwise dark ignorance.

In other words, a book’s value is in creating deeper, more cultivated value within its readers. Learning is always forward-moving, and you can’t unlearn what you learn.”

TRB : why do we need books?

Jason , ” We need books in order to prevent history from repeating itself while simultaneously continuing to advance civilization. History shows that with greater accessibility to books in general, society progresses more rapidly and expansively. The best example is Gutenberg and the advent of his printing press–it incontrovertibly proves that civilization took a massive leap forward in every respect thanks to the printed word. Without books, we might very well regress back to some forgotten yet frightening times; just take a look at societies where books were reproached by, or outright prohibited to, the people.”