If Bars Are Open, Why Aren’t Libraries?

*Note: Montgomery County’s COVID-19 guidelines changed to include lower capacities and earlier closing times for bars and restaurants after this article was initially written. However, libraries are still closed.

In Montgomery County, it seems we’ve opened everything except for libraries. I head to downtown Silver Spring about once a week and drive past the library I used to go to on a daily basis. Then, I take a right and see a crowd of people outside a bar without masks on. 

We must get our priorities straight. Adults want to go to the bar and drink, and they can. Students want to go to the library and study, but we can’t. Why are bars more important to our community than libraries?

The library is an escape from home for students who want to thrive academically. Not everyone has a stable household to just sit down and study when they please. The bars being open, though, is something else entirely: ignorant. If we’re going to open one up, we must open both. 

What they don’t realize, though, is that they’re forgetting the whole safety aspect. Honestly, opening libraries can be safer than bars and restaurants. You don’t ever have to take your mask off in a library, but you do when you eat and drink at a bar. People for the most part don’t socialize in the library, but they do at bars.

If post offices, small-businesses, malls, gyms, arcades, and casinos can open in Maryland, then why can’t libraries? It’s frustrating the way the government picks and chooses what’s right and wrong. The MCPL, who regulates the libraries, must be more considerate. They’ve allowed book drop off and pick up, but that’s not enough. Students don’t go to the library for the sole purpose of getting or returning a book. One of the library’s main purposes is to be a safe place to read and study. We just want to study away from home and it feels like we’re being forgotten about. 

A great way to help solve this problem would be to become louder. We must contact the people who have an important say in decisions like these. Nick Asante, the Student Member of the Board for MCPS, would be a great person to contact (@nickasante_ on Twitter). Because he’s so close to students, he’d listen and take our proposal to people who can make change. Getting the attention of our Governor Larry Hogan and others at the head of Maryland would help as well. With enough support, we’ll get them to understand us and consider our requests. 

Let’s go get our libraries back. Instead of letting MCPL keep our libraries closed, let’s speak out for change. Because if we all come together, we can persuade the MCPL to make the right decision.