2020 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards Documentary Now Available To Stream

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As the U.S. economy continues to crawl toward recovery, more and more people find themselves at the library. Filled with resources, computers, books and programs, the local library is often one of the only places people can go to get their information needs met, and unlike most online sources, there are real live people there to offer assistance.

Writers tend to be very vocal champions for libraries, particularly these days as funding is cut while demand is highest. Earlier this year, during an author visit to his local library in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Junot Diaz spoke for a few minutes on the importance of libraries, particularly as it relates to his success as an author. “I can directly attribute who I am as a writer, an artist, as a thinker..from my early, early experiences in my school and town library.” Watch his entire remarks below.

2011 Anisfield-Wolf winner Kamila Shamsie reflects on the availability of literature through the world’s public libraries—and what that means for future generations:

“A couple of years ago, after a reading in Karachi, I told off a young man who was asking me to sign a pirated copy of one of my books. Piracy is destroying publishing in Pakistan, I told him. He said he understood but added that because pirated books are cheaper he could buy more of them. It’s not as if Karachi is filled with public libraries, he said.”

Shamsie goes on to discuss the rising crisis in London, where 10 percent of all libraries have closed since April 2011. Read the full article here. A commenter on the article added:

“Libraries are important not just for the poor. They work for all of us and not only for books or computers. During this financial crisis we are living in, more people is going to the library to learn something new, to attend a free lecture, to polish his/her resume, to enjoy music from all over the world. Libraries are making everything they can to adapt their services to a new the technology not to mention how they help the new immigrant population. We have the moral obligation to protect, preserve and increase the public libraries.”

How often do you visit your town’s public library? Do they serve an important purpose in today’s society, even as technology expands our access to literature?