Lauren Myracle

Lauren Myracle: Free to Read

"If libraries lose their budgets, our culture is losing out."

I went to the Atlanta Public Library in Fulton County and sat on the bean bag chair surrounded by books as if I were in a candy store, and learning about Agatha Christie, Lois Duncan and Steven King, and having my friends show me,"You've got to see this," and running me over to different shelves.

And also being without my parents, feeling like I could be in the library and be independent and I could choose what to read. Obviously, that's something that I still believe in very strongly, that we should be able to choose what we read, and kids should as well.

[On budget cuts] If libraries lose their budgets, then our culture is losing out, and we will be known as the "Age of Ignorance," and I believe that. I don't understand it.

I don't understand how politicians can even think that way because the best way to prevent our country from falling into... you know, any kind of trouble, is to educate people and make their brains grow. and that's where libraries come in.

They bring books, they bring the entire world, they also bring a homeless man the chance sit down and fill out a job application or an hispanic mom a chance to bring their daughter to bilingual storytime, or me a chance, in college, to go...once I was told in Creative Writing 101 that I wasn't good enough to continue with the program. The library is where I went to cry and to grab "Ramona the Brave" off the shelf and to encourage myself to regroup and say, "I can."

I'm working in a novel called "Shine," which is another one of those books that some people are going to have a hard time with. It's about a young man who has been the victim of a hate crime, and a young girl in the rural South who finds it within herself not to fight for her own injustices, but to fight for her friend and to figure out who in her community did this horrible thing to her friend. So it's about prejudice, intolerance and oh, I guess, the surprising bonds that can help you get through all that.

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Atlanta Public Library in Fulton County