Half the libraries to close—our rural places take another hit.
I considered it all, just struck in disbelief.
Just another in a slew of bad decisions
and I’m torn; should I be angry or feel grief?
First the financial disaster that is Muskrat Falls,
and the levy—not a tax; more like a fine.
And the nickel and diming, I could even take that,
but this latest move shows that we’ve crossed a line.
Still those in control insist this move will result
in a system that is better for us all.
The rurals can dump their kids to fetch some books
when they drive to town to stock up at the mall.
The plan: drop off your ‘scrip, and go grab a burger
while the library staff diligently minds your kids
then take the hour-long drive back home
on winter roads, avoiding potholes, moose and skids.
Seems all so great ‘til you think about it and realize
that’s not really how libraries are supposed to work.
They’re not dumping grounds where you grab some stuff
and take off while your kids just run berserk.
My thoughts drift back to Southern Harbour
in Placentia Bay, the place that I once called home.
Mild winters, lots of fish, good work but still
nearly always under a misty, thick fog filled dome.
On those many, many days when the weather was too poor
to chase after a puck or smack around a ball
off to the library we’d all head for the afternoon.
Me—the bookworm—I’d figure we had ‘er scalled.
The names that then became my lifelong friends
Adams, King, Archer, LeGuin, Asimov and Dick,
Niven, Clarke, Zelazney, Thompson,
Hinton, Herriot—so many more I could pick.
I’d never have known about their thoughts
and stories of worlds far better than I could dream.
Without them I figure I’d still be stuck in the past
and soaking up the crap from each new political team.
And the sense of community that Bride created
along with the library board—she made it such
that singalongs, story time and celebrations
added to books and reading that special touch.
But now austerity is the only word.
Whatever judged “not needed” has to close.
So outport libraries are seen as waste;
so called “low hanging fruit” one does suppose.
Know what? What frightens me to the core
is the realization that we are now led by
those who fail to see the beyond the moment
and understand the reasons for the outcry.
There’s more to life than working a job to make
enough to pay your taxes and your bills
with just enough left for fast food and perhaps
some meds and other stuff to treat your ills.
It’s not just about a few books and “shh.”
it’s even about more than basic literacy.
It’s more than access to internet and government docs.
It’s more than the facts to support curiosity.
No, more than anything libraries are living symbols of the hope;
the feeling that, through knowledge and wisdom we can do much more—
a thing our forebears knew so very well.
Now I fear for what the future might have in store.
Because with those closings that hope won’t shine so bright;
yet another reason to pack it up and leave.
And what of those who still decide to stay
in a place diminished, perhaps for them we’ll grieve.
For myself, and in the here and now
it won’t matter much, my job surrounds me with all I need.
Besides, right now I earn enough
to pay for Internet and the things I choose to read.
But things are cyclical and there will surely come a time
when I find myself in some underfunded private health care home
without the work and responsibility that nurtures me today
family grown and feeling so very much alone.
I will no longer get the refuge I once found
in that place of respect, knowledge, in which I felt secure;
no longer will I find the books and things
like I once did, just a short walk from my door.
But it is what it is, I and I know, it’s true
so often things are decided on a whim
by those who understand and use them the least
and just want their way; only want to win.
Still, the savings are so miniscule against
the deficit that it’s supposed to reduce
and we know the damage that this act will do
and for that stupidity there can be no excuse.