Friday, February 13, 2009

Nation's Oldest Public Library Still In Danger

This country has an almost irrational obsession with preservation. We spend millions of dollars every year to battle the laws of Entropy as decay, rot, weathering and age threaten classic works of art, historical documents, and priceless antiques. "Old Glory", the flag that is supposed to have inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, has been under a constant restoration and preservation effort that has cost upwards of $18 Million.

Considering this desire to hang on to every bit of history that we can, it is almost unfathomable that the state of Pennsylvania is ready and willing to close the doors on the nation's oldest standing library.

Constructed in 1743, the Darby Free Library has the distinction of being older than the United States of America. But with budget restrictions due partly to the growing economic crisis, and partly to the abysmal budgetary practices of the state's governing body, the powers that be have decided that shaving a bit of cash off the top of the state's outgoing column is worth boarding up a historical representation of community knowledge and literacy.

The Darby Free Library has been in the news on and off since November, when they first got the word that they would be closing on December 31st. Since then, they have been flooded with donations from book-lovers and historically-minded citizens who can't stand the thought of losing such a precious American Historical Icon. The publicity hasn't managed to shame the state's government into fixing their mistake, but the donations they have received have managed to delay the closing, and so the doors on the nation's oldest standing library are still open.

I don't post news flashes of every cause seek donations that pops up on the AP. As a matter of fact, I've never promoted a cause seeking donations at all. But as an author and book lover, I feel the need to spread the word about this one.

Of course, spreading the word is good, but talk is cheap. So, I have already sent a small donation to the Darby Free Library. I urge you to do the same, even if it is only a dollar or two. You can easily donate to the library through their website using PayPal. If they can raise the equivalent of $5 per member of their community, they can keep the library open another year, and give the State of Pennsylvania's head honchos some time to pull their collective head out of their ass.

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