It will come as no surprise that someone who keeps a book blog loves libraries. This week their importance has really been on my mind.
Facing a make or break millage, Troy Public Library in Troy, MI was threatened with closure if they did not secure enough votes in today’s election. I am pleased to say the voters in Troy appreciate their library too and voted to keep funding the institution. What really amazes me about this vote was the supporters who first brought the issue to my attention. The family behind The Books for Walls Project who also live in my area, hundreds of miles from Troy, took on the cause as though it were their own library that was threatened. The young sisters especially seemed to understand the value of a library to a community and took to the internet and social media sites with a vengeance to raise awareness. I commend them!
Personally, a local library branch brought me back a little of my youth. Over the course of several days, I attended showings at East Bay Public Library’s 5th Annual Film Strip Festival, hosted by the wonderful librarian, Rosie!
Now, there is a generational gap here. Many people around 30 and under have little or no idea what a film strip is. Slightly older people will remember film strips as the way teachers had a break from students before VHS tapes were readily available in schools (let alone DVDs!). I was probably in middle elementary school the last time I saw one. Lots of strips about science. I do remember watching the entire classic Rankin/Bass cartoon of The Hobbit as a film strip though!
The Film Strip Festival was a wonderful collection of children’s books on film strip. Rosie showed a variety of stories, from Five Chinese Brothers to The Polar Express. Though some had quite cheesy music that really dated them, the narrator to illustration story telling was a simple treat I had forgotten.
Maybe it is the nostalgia, but I cannot help but think how deprived kids are today (yup, I am saying “these kids today”). Every semi-decent picture book is turned into a glowing movie. Watching The Polar Express film strip in particular, I was reminded of how wonderful the story and illustrations really are. There is a dark, mysterious quality to the Christmas Eve journey. Years of passing the book cover at the holidays and scenes from the bubbly Tom Hanks movie had made me forget the real magic of Chris Van Allsburg’s storytelling. Real storytelling, sans CGI, is a wonderful thing, but I worry it is a dying art.
Yet, there is The Books for Walls Project, including those sisters. Those young, avid readers who are so tech savvy. They are out there saving libraries and being introduced to so many people from around the world via their website. That is a wonderful thing too.