Saturday, March 01, 2008

Is "I just don't care" good enough, or will it get me into trouble?

People who don't run small non-profits aren't aware of the seismic transformation of the field by the so-called social entrepreneurs, who promise measurable impact and sustainable growth through serving the marketplace of the bottom billion. Venture capitalists feel good about changing the world with their smart investments that yield high returns. Microcredit is the darling of this movement, since you get transformation for nothing. But frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. I play the game as best I can, but small community libraries are a different kind of passion. It is a cliché, but most of the people motivated to donate time and money to community libraries are the same people who donate time and money, and who benefit from, their local libraries. They are avid readers, people who are profoundly affected by the reading experience. When I read Chinua Achebe or Amadou Kourouma, or Jane Austen, the experiences in my brain are worthy of study, they're so interesting! So what a library is about, is giving people opportunities to become passionate, avid readers. Is there a study that says that this is a good thing by some other measure? I'm not sure we need that study- isn't becoming an avid reader a good thing in and of itself? Does it have to have some other effect?

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