On Saturday, I got to visit the public library in Marengo, Iowa, which is the most beautiful library I have ever seen. Rather than a concrete filing cabinet for books, the Marengo library is a warm and inviting environment, a veritable temple to books.
I am a huge fan of libraries. They provide a center a learning accessible to anyone. At a time with college costs $30,000 a year, anyone can go to a local library and check out a book for free. Or, in these days, they can go there to use the Internet to access actual courses from schools like MIT. Of course, you can also check out sleazy detective novels and space operas.
Some authors claim that every book checked out of a library is a potential sale lost. The publishing industry has even hired lobbyists to push this idea on politicians. I believe this opinion is poppycock.
As a fiction author, I see every book checked out of the library as an opportunity to make a new fan. Again, I fall back on a simple concept. I would rather build a following that sell a few more books.
The other wonderful resource that libraries contain are the librarians themselves. Librarians are far more than clerks who stamp books. They are well-educated professionals. They are champions of free speech. They cherish and support the written word. More importantly, the provide a non-profit motivated voice in an every-increasingly profit motivated industry.