Some people would say that libraries ought to charge more fees in these tough economic times. It was Walter Cronkite who said "Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation."
Even in Kenya, recently bogged down in political strife, people would agree. In an opinion piece in the Kenyan paper The Daily Nation, Ng'ang'a Mbugua wrote about youth who "blocked roads and burnt property because they felt alienated":
...“when people feel hopeless they become nihilistic”. A nihilist is a person who believes that nothing is valuable. Not life. Not property. Nothing. ...As the recent Olympics reminded us, many social truths have no regard for nation or culture. The need for hope -- and the ability of learning opportunities, such as free public libraries, to sustain our hope -- are universally human.
If we are to help more of these future leaders from embracing nihilism, our country must find a way of reducing the frustrations that young people have to endure. And we can do it. ...
Even the studious types like myself had access to public libraries which did not charge a cent to access the novels that fired our imaginations and kept us so busy we forgot we were as broke as church mice. Today, one has to pay Sh20 [about 30 cents U.S.] per day to use a public library. This means that a young man or woman from a poor family will not benefit from these libraries yet they need the knowledge to advance themselves in life.
Needless to say, our country must find a way to inject hope and optimism into the veins of its youth.