Monday, July 7, 2008
Libraries For All: An Intimation for Attention to Place
This upcoming Saturday in Seattle the last of the building/refurbishing projects that have comprised the "Libraries For All" initiative will officially be complete. This is really great to see such an initiative coalesce and be completed over the course of the last ten years. Seattle is a special place for a lot of reasons but the inclination of community members to actually value (and fund) projects like this one differentiate it from other locales that either don't, can't, or (worse-yet) delay such support. Materiality matters and its easy to get so disembodied via our networked world that what is actually happening in our community goes un-scrutinized. Place still matters. Development, non-development, investment (or lack of) are amplified in accelerated globalized spaces. In an era of spatial theory we tend to think that place doesn't matter as much, but it does. Place matters differently and probably matters more than it used to. Seeing communities take a stand for their places through a spatial practice (space=enacted place...see Doreen Massey's work) is really cool. Back to Seattle. A lot of these libraries were built in under served lower SES neighborhoods. Having a place to go and to interact with a variety of media and information is important. By making such a place available in certain areas, communities experience empowerment and recognition. This isn't a trope, its' real. Find out for yourself. The city takes a stand for these areas and that matters. Having lived in areas like Washington, DC where public libraries get shut down it's edifying to witness Seattle's achievement. Libraries (and other publicly supported institutions) matter and if someone tells you different it's probably because they've got so much privilege and access that they're not able to see whose back they're standing on. Help them out if you can.