Tucked away in the basement an adobe home in the rural Panjwai District in Afghanistan is small one-room library. It has two shelves of about sixteen hundred books and magazines, a collection that has been largely developed through donations from around the world. The library gets about five visitors a day, but to twenty-two-year-old Matiullah Wesa, “five visitors in the village are more important than 100 in the city.”
Posts Tagged ‘small libraries’
Highly specialized libraries are usually small, very well curated, and often noncirculating. They serve a variety of research and niche needs in a gorgeous setting.
A Washington Post editorial champions the idea of small libraries, suggesting they are key to the industry’s future success. Writer Steve Barker states, “With print collections and budgets down, more libraries may be the answer—but smaller ones.” I work at a public library that serves a population of 4,078. It is one of the smallest of our system’s seventy-seven members (the smallest serves only 3,382). My staff knows most of our regular patrons by name, and many out-of-town visitors tell us they like our library because of its cozy environment. We are part of a cooperative in which each library is independent but can take advantage of select shared services like ILL and digital collections. In a world of large multibranched regional libraries, however, I have typically viewed our size—and corresponding tiny budget—as somewhat of a detriment. Barker’s argument is quite compelling and made me pause to re-evaluate.
While some of us may be used to large urban public libraries that have almost anything we want, this is not the case with rural libraries. What some people take for granted others would treasure. Many libraries in rural areas are at a crossroads where they find themselves in a financial situation that does not allow them to advance.