Libraries dumbing down America?

An article in the American Chronicle struck me the wrong way – that is your warning that a rant is to follow.

Author, Dave Gibson, writes:

A recent article in my local newspaper (Virginian-Pilot) about libraries “efforts to woo teens,” caught my eye. Apparently, the works of such luminaries as Rudyard Kipling and Mark Twain have been replaced with the Xbox and Nintendo Wii. It is little wonder that our nation’s literacy rate continues to decline.

Dave goes on to quote such library names as Jenny Levine and Paula Brehm-Heeger as saying that librarians are trying to keep up with what patrons want. Now, I’m not a big fan of gaming – period – but that doesn’t mean I agree with Dave’s concerns that gaming in libraries is going to lead to the dumbing down of Americans.

Dave mentions that when he was young, going to the library was a family thing:

When I was a kid, libraries were places of literate study and my parents took me there every Saturday. I read all of my books throughout the week so that I could check out more the following Saturday. It was something in which the whole family participated and something to which we all looked forward. I did not need movies or games to attract me to the library. It was a place of quiet reverence, not yet another ‘safe place’ for parents to dump their kids for free baby sitting!

I think the key to his complaint can be found in this paragraph – not in the hand of librarians. The problem lies with the parents!! I’ve said this before – parents are in charge of the rearing of their children. Parents are the ones who will instill a love of language and reading and libraries in the future generations – not librarians. Dave’s parents did a great thing for him – and mine did a great thing for me – by taking him to the library every week – and I bet that if there was an option to play games and read books at the library, Dave’s parents would have laid down the law or given him a compromise (20 minutes of play for 3 books – or whatever).

I get very annoyed when people assume that it’s our job to raise their children! I don’t have children – I don’t want children – and I sure as heck don’t want to raise your children!

That said, I do not agree that putting games in libraries is going to cause kids to stop reading – and I love that libraries have the resources to provide a bit of fun to kids who may not be able to have these experiences at home.

Okay, rant over! Let the parents start throwing tomatoes!


  1. “have been replaced”? Why do people think that adding new services and programming means we’re getting rid of the books instead of supplementing them?

  2. Jason – I have no idea. My husband said something great when I was talking about this – people have to stop getting stuck on “should” – shoulds do nothing but prevent evolution! He said it better, but I agree – why is it that libraries “should” only provide books? I don’t know!!

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