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Library Closes Doors to the Poor


There was a time when a man could fix his entire world without a book. When all books but the Bible were the frivolous luxuries of the wicked and the damned. With a sharp knife and some matches, a man could live for years.

Then came a time when, if a man had a solid set of end wrenches and a gallon of axle grease, he could make anything work for him.

Now, all men, all women, all people have problems. Even our problems have problems.

And no amount of knives and no amount of matches can fix them.

I do not believe that we can triumph over the treacherous ills of this world without the knowledge from those who came before us. The knowledge that is kept in books.

I believe every person should have access to those books.

Regardless of sex or race or age.

Regardless of where they live or how much money they have.


Emmett, Idaho, population 6600, has a city library. With 50,000 volumes, it is the largest library in Gem County, population 16,000. It is free for city residents, but county residents must pay a yearly fee of $40.

The library has proposed enacting a library district, which would finance the library through taxation of property in the entire county.

Many of the citizens of Gem County are opposed to having a library district. They are opposed to the increased taxation.

I don't think you should have a choice about books.

I believe that one of the hallmarks of civilization is the right of the people to traffic in ideas. The flooding of the plain of human existence with thousands of books. The right to read a book simply by picking it up and turning the pages.

No where else in the world is there such a premium placed on freedom. No where. Freedom of dress, of expression, of thought.

Freedom to read.

Whatever book I want to read.

I wake up every morning waiting for someone to figure out how to create a sustainable farming system in Africa. I wait for someone to write the next great piece of literature, that will inspire the next great film. I wait for someone to find a new way to deal with our water shortages.

I know that someone, out there, has the answers to these problems.

But maybe they need to do some reading first.

I just hope they can afford a library card.