I confess. I’m addicted to libraries. They’re very high on my obsession list. So, here’s my homage to all you library types, both those of you who work in them and those of you who love them too.

My first library was here, at Pearl Rucker Elementary School, in South Houston:

Then there was the one at James S. Deady Jr. High, near the Houston Ship Channel:

The one I use most now is this one, the Larry Ringer Library, right here in College Station:

And here is the inimitable Prof. Teri Lesesne aka Professor Nana, a true champion. And look! She’s reading the newest book by another wonderful librarian, Jeanette Larson:

Heck, if I were to list all of my librarian pals, I’d have to start now and it would take me weeks to finish. Just know that I love each and every one of you. (Okay, most of you anyways).

The thing is, recently, libraries have become the targets for budget cuts. Here in College Station, our schools will no longer have a certified librarian for each campus. Instead, they’ll share the services of a librarian. This means that on some campuses, there will be students who will go for long periods of time without ever seeing the librarian. Instead, paraprofessionals or aides or even volunteers will be running the daily activities in the library.

Things like story time, instruction in research, curriculum development and all of the things that fall under the auspices of a librarian will likely be stowed just for expedience.

On the public side, libraries are having to cut hours, cut pay, cut down on purchasing of materials.

It makes me so sad.

Libraries are a community’s, a state’s, a nation’s first statement of its dedication to a democracy. A free and thriving library offers up equal access to every citizen regardless of income, status, race, ethnicity, whatever. Open and free access to information is what democracy is all about. A thriving library is a community’s way of expressing its commitment to democratic ideals. And when libraries are shut down, or their hours are cut back, when they can’t afford materials, then we’re being denied the very tools that we need in order to become an informed citizenry. When some of us are denied access, all of us are denied access.

So take action, sports fans! Here in Texas, you can support the Texas Library Association. Contact your Congress Critters (as Molly Ivins once called them). Tell everyone you know that libraries matter, that they’re the front lines of an educated and informed democracy. We need them.

Calloo, Callay!