Thursday, August 28, 2014

On the News this Week: Enough books?

This week Yves Bolduc, the Education Minister of Québec, recently said in an interview, regarding the recent budget cuts, that libraries have enough books:
I would prefer [that libraries] buy fewer books. Our libraries are already well-equipped. Go in the schools. There are books… books that were bought last year, two years ago, 20 years ago,” Bolduc told Le Devoir.
This is true off course, libraries do have a lot of books, but one thing is too have a lot of books and another is to say that they have ENOUGH because...what is enough really? 

First of all, what Mr Bolduc seems to not have into consideration is that there are books coming out EVERY YEAR to say the least, and that off course includes books for children, MS and YA and off course text books. While the later sometimes have almost the same information from edition to edition, in science at least, theory can change a lot, and hence the book that the library has from, say, 2 years ago, might carry statements that are no longer valid.

As for books that are not text books, a lot of them that have appeared recently, tackle more and more recent events or situations and hence offer a completely different reading experience than a book from 20 years ago. This does not demerit the value of books from 20 or more years ago off course, but is not the same thing, and one person cannot say that because you have the Encyclopedia Britannica from 1950 at home, you have no use for a Wikipedia entry for Climate change.

It is normal that different entities have to go under budget cuts but is a sad thing when one of the first options is education. I grew up not knowing a public library until I was a full grown teenager. My school's (a private one) library was the only library I knew besides the one at home, and I consider myself lucky because of this. When I moved here and finally had access to a free public library system it was heaven for me. Demoting the value that books can have for children AND for their educators is not alright. 

What is your opinion on this situation? Is there such thing as enough books, particularly when it is related to children's education?

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