Books. Are there any, more useful, informative, entertaining, or essential objects in the world than books? If parents could do only “one” thing for their children, I’m not sure anything would be more important than instilling in them a genuine love for books and reading.

I just started reading a book a few days ago. It’s David McCullough’s relatively recent book, “1776.” In a nutshell, McCullough covers the military side of the momentous year of 1776 with a gripping narrative, adding new scholarship and a fresh perspective to the beginning of the American Revolution. As I was reading along, I couldn’t help but think how books can transport the reader to other times and places, how books can make us think about not only contemporary issues, but also put us in the minds of people who lived centuries ago. Books provide a treasure trove of the world’s accumulated knowledge going back thousands of years. It is through books and reading that each of us become educated men and women.

Think back to your days in school. How was knowledge transmitted? How did we acquire knowledge? Through experience? Certainly. From teachers? Yes. By watching television? Sometimes. But we learn essentially, through the information contained in books. If experience were the best and only teacher, then each generation would be re-learning life’s lessons for the first time, over and over again. It is through books that we avoid re-learning everything that life requires us to know!

If a love of books and the joy of reading are all they’re cracked up to be, one is led to the inexorable conclusion that public libraries are, perhaps, the most important buildings in communities fortunate enough to have them.

When was the last time you read a book? When was the last time you visited a public library. Everything there is to know about anything worth knowing can be found or obtained from a public library.

I recall an attempt made several years ago to expand our local public library from being just a “city” library to a county library that would be available to everyone for a very minimal assessment through property taxes. The amount, as I recall, was less than a penny per hundred dollars of assessed valuation. As it was then, and still is, county residents pay a rather hefty fee to use the “city” library. A proposal was made to the county commissioners to authorize the creation of a true county library. To this day I remember how the meeting unfolded. About a dozen county residents showed up at the Commissioner’s meeting to oppose the measure – imagine that! One old fellow said he didn’t know how to read, so why should he have to pay more taxes to support a library he couldn’t use! Guess what happened? The proposal was defeated, not because thousands of country residents opposed it, but because only a dozen or so taxpayers showed up to object. If you ever wanted to see a classic example of minority rule, that was it. The presumption on the part of the Commissioners, and I know this to be true because one of them said it to me, was because so many people showed up to object, the county folks must be opposed to it! Twelve people, ladies and gentlemen! To this day we don’t have a county-wide library because twelve people – one of whom admitted he was illiterate – objected to making the library available to thousands. Needless to say, none of those serving as Commissioners at that time are around anymore. Well, that little episode was a perfect example of how the protestations of the few can be interpreted as the will of the majority. But I digress…

Getting back to the point. All of the greatest and most brilliant ideas and thoughts in all of human history are found in books. Books are unique in another equally important way; they engage the reader in the learning process. The words are right there on the page to be read and studied. With the advent of the computer, the world of books has been transformed into an even more readily available medium. One way or the other, if you want to make the lives of your children better, encourage them to read and instill in them a love for books. I often write about the importance of education, well, it is through books and the ability to read and understand them that a significant part of the educational process takes place.

That’s —30— for this week.

Watch for Paul Barada’s column Mondays in the Rushville Republican. Add a comment at

Recommended for you