AOC advocates for libraries to be open 24/7

We have quite a few new readers around here who may have missed this fun fact about me, but I’m a full time public librarian. So sometimes I write about issues I see being discussed in the library world that also have an impact on politics. I’m also somewhat of an anomaly since public librarians are notoriously liberal.

Anyway,  last night, AOC caused quite a stir when she retweeted this tweet about how public libraries should be open 24/7.

Here’s the original thread that started the whole thing.

It’s a nice thought, but makes me think the original tweeter doesn’t use the library very much anymore. We’ve shifted from quiet spaces to technology and programming hubs because while books and literacy are at the heart of our mission, libraries have to adapt to the times to give our patrons what they want.

And they want computers, electronic devices/resources, and wifi.

Most of the time, there aren’t enough public computers for the amount of people that want to use them and lack of funding makes it nearly impossible to buy more.

That same lack of funding would be a problem if we were to keep the doors open 24/7. You’re going to need staff there to make sure people have someone to help them. It will also cost more to keep the lights and electricity on 27/7. And believe me, you’ll want to hire security – most libraries need a security guard during the day but can’t afford one and if I was running the branch, I would not want my staff there at night without an armed security guard.

If you don’t understand why, read about this library manager who got shot by a patron she banned. Or this one who got stabbed to death.

It’s a safe bet to say that if the library was open 24/7, there would at least be one or two people in the building. Especially when the weather is bad because sometimes people without a home just need a warm place to go. Even on the worst weather days, my library has one or two people that sometimes WALK in ice and snow to get to the library just to use the computer.

Libraries have value, and while I appreciate AOC’s sentiment here,  like many of her other big ideas, the concept of a 24/7 library just isn’t feasible. Until she can discuss how to increase funding to pay staff, utilities and security officers, it’s just a nice tweet that will get a lot of attention and feelings.

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