In his newest novel THE WATER KNIFE, Paolo Bacigalupi—National Book Award finalist and bestselling author of The Windup Girl—delivers a scorching near-future thriller born out of today’s front-page headlines.
Voters placed the novel at #4 on the May LibraryReads List and Library Journal’s starred review hailed it as “a fresh cautionary tale classic.”
This National Library Week, Bacigalupi reminds us of the importance of libraries in every community:
Last year, we failed to fund our local library system. The county budget was tight, and the libraries needed to make up the difference by increasing the mil levy. So they came to us, the citizens of Delta County, for that increase.
And we, the voters, said, “No.”
Personally, if I was going to craft a dystopian society, the first thing I’d do is get rid of the libraries.
As a writer, I specialize in creating terrible broken futures, and if I wanted to make a drabber, more selfish, more ignorant, and more nasty society, well then, ripping out libraries would be a great place to start.
As a reader, you would instantly know what kind of place you were in if the citizens of that place actively decided to get rid of these churches of knowledge, these places where even the poorest can read any book (even a brand-new bestseller for free!), get access to a computer and the internet, where anyone can print a resume, or look up legal terms, or read a newspaper or a magazine, all without a credit card, or a payment plan, or a unique ID, without even an address. If I were writing a dystopian story, it would say so much if that society got rid of those places where children who don’t have books at home can have whole vast shelves of them. Yes, by all means, strangle the libraries, if you want to show yourself in the worst possible light, and make the worst possible future. My county did it, and I sure look at the people around here differently because of it.
In the wake of our funding debacle, the libraries in my area have had to cut back their hours. It’s a loss. It leaves a slightly larger hole in the fabric of community when a library isn’t thriving, funded, and open to all.
I very much hope that you’re lucky enough to live in a community that values these institutions that quietly do so much for the benefit of civil society, and cost us almost nothing in return, but I’m also more keenly aware than ever that it’s not enough to simply celebrate our libraries. We need to defend them, we need to fight for them, because there will always be those small-minded people out there who will say that our taxes are too high, and that it’s every person’s right to keep our Scrooge dollars in our Scrooge pockets so that we buy another couple lattes, or a box of shotgun shells, or that extra gallon of gas for the truck, or whatever it is that we think is more important than open access to knowledge and information. They will always be there. Short-sighted, and small-minded.
Yes, it costs us something to fund libraries. But without libraries, we help usher in the kinds of futures that I write about in my stories—those brutish stupid broken worlds that are best left to fiction, because it would be a misery to actually live in them.”
And, as OUR salute to libraries this National Library Week,
we’re offering a complete collection of our 2015 LibraryReads Titles to 10 lucky libraries.
Click to enter your library for a chance to win!