Libraries—A User’s Perspective

From the April 2000 Speaking Volumes, the newsletter of the Minneapolis Public Library and Friends of the Public Library.

Statewide Significance of New Library

At the annual Library Legislative Day at the State Capitol on February 16, Library Trustee Mary Doty, Director Mary Lawson, and other staff and advocates testified before both the House and Senate K-12 Education Committees to request state bonding to help finance a new Minneapolis Central Library. Minnesota author Stew Thornley’s testimony, reprinted here, says a lot about the value of the Central Library from the perspective of a writer and avid library user.

My name is Stew Thornley. I’m a resident of Roseville and a frequent user of libraries throughout the metropolitan area, particularly the Central Library of the Minneapolis Public Library, which offers a number of resources not available in other libraries in the area.

It could be said that without books, there would be no libraries. However, in my case, the opposite is even more true—that without libraries, there would be no books. I write books, and I can plainly state that these books would not be possible without the informational resources available at places like the Minneapolis Public Library. In addition to the books there, I have used their archive of newspapers and periodicals, maps and photos, government documents, and the wide array of different kinds of information available in their special collection, the Minneapolis Collection, which is a true treasure trove.

Some of the books I’ve written have been on local sports history. Others are books for young readers, primarily sports biographies. Now this book (children’s sports biography) may not compete with Hemingway on a literary scale, but I feel good about it because it’s designed for reluctant readers, young people who might not otherwise be reading anything at all. I feel strongly about the importance of reading. A wise man in the book business once told me that prisons are full of people who can’t read. And if something like this is causing someone to pick up a book and read, then that’s good, good for everyone.

Libraries are places for books like these, to make them available to everyone. But libraries are also places that provide the resources to make books like these possible.

Let’s never overlook the importance of a good library to a community.

Now, my friends know me as a cheap person who always loves a good bargain. As far as I’m concerned, both for the people who use them and for a community as a whole, libraries are the world’s best bargain.
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