Work in a public library offers fascinating insight into a community. People of different ages, gender, ethnicity, economic status and education enter our door all day long with diverse interests and needs. It is a fundamental principle of library service that we treat each and all equally with courtesy and thoughtfulness – whether they have come to borrow a book, look for a video, connect to the WiFi, join a storytime, pay a fine, attend a workshop, get help with their mobile device, FAX a document, type a resume or send an email.
Today’s public library functions as a reading room, book lender, video outlet, internet cafe, preschool activity center, homework resource, local history repository, art gallery, coffee shop and office suite. The public library is multidimensional in a multidimensional world; our services are as diverse as the public we serve.
One of the most important services of the public library is as a public commons. The public library is used (and has been used since its origin) as a place of gathering – gathering for the exchange of ideas, for communication of thoughts, open discussion and conversation. The free exchange of ideas is, after all, the bedrock of a democracy. These conversations can be as simple as a book discussion – where there is often consensus, or as complex as a topic of national concern – where there may be little consensus.
One such topic of national concern that has certainly dominated our personal conversations these past weeks is gun violence. The concern being generated by the horrific deaths in Las Vegas and, more recently and closer to home, the shooting of a child by a child in Taunton.
On Wednesday, October 25, at 6:30, the library is hosting a Conversation about Gun Violence, sponsored by the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization that aims to reduce the gun violence that takes too many lives in our country every day. You are invited to join in a conversation that will answer these questions: · Why is gun violence prevention needed? · Is it about gun control? · Do we need this conversation in Massachusetts? · How can I take action to help reduce gun violence? · Can I make a difference?
While this program was scheduled months in advance, it, sadly, has gained more urgency is the wake of recent events. It’s a conversation that needs all of our voices.