NEVADA CITY, Calif. October 21, 2016 – Who needs a library? With the world’s stockpile of information only a few clicks and keystrokes away, initial logic might favor the fruitful and seemingly bottomless internet as its one-stop-shop for knowledge. I have grown to know differently. I am a recently reinstated Sierra College student — twenty-six years old — with aspirations born from the ever elusive American Dream and ambition forged with the insatiable curiosity to explore however deep this rabbit hole of life may actually go, and I can say, against my generation’s contrary inclination, I need libraries. Don’t get me wrong, in all of its endless potential for connecting people worlds apart and sharing information — whether that is an adorable picture of the children posted for Grandma or the clues to solving our planet’s various mysteries — the internet is a future we must collectively embrace. But even still, a library, however overshadowed by the inevitability of becoming consumed, is worth preserving.
I am a political science major who relies on access to thorough reporting about complex current events, and the internet, as a resource for contextual information, on its own, is insufficient. The world wide web is a wonderful fusion of reliable sources and the uninformed, veiled by an obstructing facade colored by faux credibility. The flurry of uncorroborated opinions presented as facts online often buries the rich cache of truth that acts like a quiet, intelligent young student hidden in the back of the classroom cautiously waiting to be called upon. The internet is the common alternative to a library, but the internet is too new and maybe too naive to have pillaged and replaced its predecessor.
In recent days, I have used books — you know, those heavy things, often musty and perceived to be rarely read by my restless generation — checked out at a library to aid my arguments in both English and Political Science papers, to rediscover the quiet calm achieved by turning powerful pages, and to give context to this volatile world in hope of better understanding why things are as they are. Experts, credible observers, masterful lyricists and authors create depth unmatched in anything other than a stack of printed paper bound together. Yet, the simplicity employed by today’s fact peddlers and the framework by which information is distributed are often the antithesis of deep understanding. Our civilization is currently reliant upon easily digestible information — with an appetite for “tweets” and “soundbites” — and is now revealing deepening divisions in its polarized existence. Depth, context, and understanding in pursuit of knowledge has never been as paramount in overcoming shared obstacles or in acknowledging compromise; the future of our “American Experiment” depends on this pursuit. This is why libraries are as essential, in my eyes, as ever — to present opposition to the trend that this world can be understood simply, to add gray scale to the often black and white lens through which we habitually observe. We all need libraries.
The promise of democracy — liberty and equality — demands of us a pursuit toward a greater understanding of the world and its people. Our responsibility requires tenacity, a resistance to complacency, and a view encompassing far more than ourselves, as the risk is otherwise too great. To waver in adhering to our country’s most fundamental ideals is to compromise the promise of the American Dream that inspired our parents and grandparents, influenced democratic countries across the planet, and helped me realize how privileged I am to call this land my home. Our American saga will only continue because Americans will find a way to better themselves in the name of progress; this is the repeating trend of our history.
These are the opinions of an overwhelmed, time-restricted student on a relentless quest for expanding his capacity for knowledge — knowledge, informed by depth and certain truth supplied by reliable sources. Though the arrival of my generation has changed our cultural landscape in unforeseen ways, my fellow compassionate, optimistic, energetic millennials have a compelling propensity for tolerance, interconnectedness, and equality like, I believe, the world has never known. As one of these optimistic young people who was born into the welcoming arms of the internet, I unequivocally believe in powerful, free internet. But I know the internet cannot do everything — yet — and so, society needs more. We all need our libraries.
Look into the prospects of Measure A on your own at www.mynevadacounty.com. Support the continuation and evolution of our libraries, and more importantly, exercise your right to vote – vote “Yes” on Measure A.