A letter to the editor of a local paper in central Maine published this morning offers a snapshot of the barriers to reading that can still exist in communities with public libraries—and how those barriers are affecting one person who’s trying to remain sober.
Social worker Elizabeth Dostie wrote to CentralMaine.com, the website for the Kennebec Journal of Augusta, Maine and Morning Sentinel of Waterville, Maine, that her friend, while filling the time in the afternoon hours between treatment and a restaurant shift, has been visiting a nearby library and hoped to check out a particular book.
When she asked for a library card, Dostie wrote:
She’s from a neighboring town and she finds out it will cost $15 for three months. There is a procedure of course. But she can walk back tomorrow with the money loaded on her debit card.
She returns again. Gets the book: “Oh good! It’s still here!” Ah — they neglected to tell her it’s cash only. So she can find an ATM right? She can walk to one on this freezing day, after she’s walked a couple miles already to get to the library, this third time. She asks about a suggestion box; truth be told she is in tears now, I expect, looking irrational, looking like someone newly sober. She is told she can walk to city hall to file a complaint.
In telling me this, she points out that there are drugs available all over town: “They’ll spot you and you can pay them tomorrow. No problem. Oh, and they’ll ask where’ve you been? Missed you!”