Growing up in rural western Nebraska, I devoured nearly the entire science fiction and fantasy section of the Scottsbluff Public Library by fifth grade (partial aerial shot of city below). Amazing feat? Not so much—the science fiction and fantasy section consisted of one set of shelves.
Nothing against the library—I loved that place. Still do, in fact. I’ve taken my daughter to Story Time there, wandered by those same shelves. No, those librarians in the 80’s were working with what they had. Kindles and iPads were a couple decades in the future. Heck, William Gibson had barely even invented cyberspace in Neuromancer (one of those books I devoured).
But a quarter century later, this need no longer be the case. Kids love digital devices. My three-year old attacks my Kindle whenever it’s within reach, and you can practically use an iPad Touch as a babysitter. In a few short years, she’s going to be a voracious reader in her own right, and I suspect she’ll be doing that reading via electronic device.
And imagine if she has access to a well-stocked national e-library. A whole galaxy of reading at her fingertips. A national e-library, accessible to anyone anywhere, has the potential to feed the reading appetite of millions of children like her. Libraries in rural areas such as eastern Wyoming, where I now live, need not be limited by physical space or burdensome budgetary concerns. Just as libraries always have, they can serve as the conduit to the wider world of reading—but with an e-library, that world literally is the world, and not just what can be squeezed onto limited shelf space.
An e-reader in every backpack. It just makes sense. I encourage you to join LibraryCity’s campaign to get them in there.
Bio: Court Merrigan’s stories have been widely published, appearing in decomP, Kyoto Review, Blackbird, Evergreen Review, Numero Cinq, Identity Theory, The Summerset Review, and others. After a decade of nomadic life in East Asia, he is at home in eastern Wyoming, having an American adventure with his family. He blogs here, where you can also find links to his short stories.