In Praise of Public Libraries

I am waiting for my Direct TV installation on Monday. If you read my last post, you know I flipped the off switch on Comcast. Direct TV comes with an internet bundle from AT&T. I should be up and running early next week. In the meantime, I am driving to the library to use the Internet. I have an Apple desktop at home. I was planning to get a laptop after I made some money on my book.  

I have distrubted over 28,000 books, have 66 reviews on Amazon, lots of followers here on my blog and on Twitter, Facebook et al. I spent money publishing the book and I have done some advertising, not a lot of money all told, but I am still waiting to buy that laptop.

So in the meantime, I got a library card and can use 120 minutes of Internet time each session. Today, while Washington is still shutdown and the politicians and talking heads argue over whose fault it is, I sit here using a service provided to all of us by the government.

I have seen some news. My husband has jury rigged an antenna to our deck and we are picking up about sixty-five channels. He couldn’t live without the TV for another minute. He would sit in his recliner, sadly staring at the blank screen, aiming his remote and pressing ON every once in awhile, only to be greeted with that annoying message, Your Explorer is not authorized. He went to Radio Shack and spent forty dollars for an antenna. Last night we watched some news. A woman with cancer told a reporter her story of waiting to receive experimental treatment through the NIHH. Because her treatment had started before the government shutdown, she is now indefinitely on hold. Every day that passes is a matter of life and death. She has a small child.

I’ll say it again because it bears repeating. Politics have real life consequences.

We also watched the wild car chase through the streets of D.C. and the motorcycle gang in New York City. The Capitol policemen, one who was injured that day, are working without pay due to the shutdown. Congress took some time out to praise them and give them a standing ovation. But they didn’t process their payroll checks. However, the Congress did pay themselves. We finished our night of TV by watching Get Shorty.

In the meantime, thousands of people are signing up for Obamacare. I’ve heard there have been a few clitches in the system. I can’t imagine they could be any worse than the glitches with Comcast I have endured over the past ten days. I had planned to sign up for Obamacare on Tuesday but will wait until my new internet service is up and running. I’m also not sure what kind of paperwork I’ll need to answer questions and I don’t want to lug all my files to the library.

I wrote a piece about Four Days in America a couple of weeks ago. Since then I met another woman who doesn’t have insurance. She’s a professional businesswoman. Several years ago she was losing weight and felt tired all the time. She went to the doctor, they did numerous tests, but found nothing. They gave her a prescription for Xanax and told her to go home and rest, it was probably stress. Shortly after that she lost her job. She tried to get insurance on her own but one of the tests she had threw her into a pre-existing condition category. The premiums were too high, she no longer has insurance. The test, I can’t remember now what it was for, had come back negative. She had no pre-exisiting condition. She argued with the insurance company then gave up as the battle waged on. I told her to go to www.healthcare.gov

I don’t understand the people who are opposed to the benefits of healthcare and the power of a functioning government to help its people live better lives. I can’t walk out my door without hearing stories that convince me something is rotten in America.

If I remember Hamlet correctly, Denmark was suffering from moral and political corruption. Something was rotten in Denmark. History repeats itself. We humans must learn and relearn things time and time again. It’s one step forward, two steps back. Bills passed by Teddy Roosevelt are overturned by Ronald Reagan. The mansions of the Wall Street robber barons line the shores of South Florida as they once did in Newport, RI. 1960’s activists who fought for voting rights now watch nervously as the Supreme Court takes on cases meant to overturn parts of the Civil Rights Act. Wealthy people hide their money in overseas bank accounts and the middle class struggles to stay afloat.

Today in the library I am joined by twenty or so young African Americans doing their homework, two elderly men reading newspapers on-line, and a woman about my age checking her email. We’re all just average Americans in need of the Internet and for whatever reasons, today  we are using the services of the public library. Thankfully, they haven’t closed the doors of the libraries yet.

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2 thoughts on “In Praise of Public Libraries

  1. And thank God they haven’t closed the doors yet. Libraries provide free access to all sorts of books that contibute to the literacy of America and you can’t have a democracy without a literate population. They provide meeting places for the community and elderly, they provide study space for those who don’t live in a Mcmansion and need someplace quiet to study. They provide access to technology to those who might not otherwise have any.What a tremendous loss it will be when our libraries shut down and all we are left with are our inivivual reading devices.

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