On June 7th to June 8th Urban Librarians Unite (ULU) had their 5th annual 24-hour read in. Four out of five years I’ve gone in the middle of the night. This year I got there at midnight and stayed past 2 am. I find it calming to be outside late at night embracing reading and libraries.
In 2009 ULU came up with the read in to protest huge proposed budget cuts to libraries. For the next four years libraries faced proposed budget cuts. ULU did unique advocacy during this time. This year there are no proposed budget cuts. The idea now is to bring adequate funding to libraries. If the city funded libraries by 65 million more, libraries could open for six day a week service everywhere.
The idea of expanding library service gives more optimism, and less angst concerning the budget. My experience with the read in this year was a celebration of the 24 hour read in and libraries. The city would benefit from six-day library service, but everyone is relieved there will be no layoffs.
At last year’s read in I read the first chapter of Tropic of Cancer. This year I thought of reading Last Exit to Brooklyn, but thought it a little rough. I put both in my backpack and read excerpts from both over two fifteen minute slots. I’m a big fan of these books because of their banning history. Also I may not have known these works prior to going to library school. I few of my classmates, and later some of my colleagues discuss literature. To me literature and libraries are connected. It’s interesting I can celebrate books that were illegal to own or read at one point.
Every year I go the read in. Libraries are far from being out of budget trouble so advocacy is needed now. I’m hoping that the read-in will have a ten-year annual, twenty-year, and so on. Lastly I’d like to thank Christian Zabriskie and Lauren Comito, the founders of ULU, for all their hard work for library advocacy!