Ann Patchett on Readers, Libraries, Books

Ann Patchett is a “dutiful member” of the Nashville Public Library Foundation Board, as she admits in the opening line of her Wall Street Journal piece on Saturday, The Triumph of the Readers. After presenting a “dismal report” on the state of the library’s endowment, Director Donna Nicely announces that the library’s new customer survey shows that the #1 reason people come to the library is not for the computers, not to check out videos, but for books.

She goes on to point out that, in the recent NEA study, the biggest increase in reading of fiction is among 18 to 24 year olds,

But doesn’t it make sense? This is the first crop of newly minted adults who were raised up on Harry Potter novels. They came of age attending midnight release parties at their local bookstores [EarlyWord Ed. Note; and libraries!] and then faking mysterious illnesses the next day for the absolute necessity of staying in bed to read.

As part of a litany about what to do to encourage reading, Patchett says, ” If you’ve got a little extra money you might think of giving it to your public library as most of their operating budgets have been trimmed beyond recognition.”

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