For centuries, civilizations have been judged by the quality of their libraries. By that standard, the news that the State Library of Louisiana is closing its doors to the public each Friday isn’t a welcome development.

Because of staff reductions and state budget cuts, the library no longer will be able to accommodate walk-in visitors on Fridays, library officials said. The library will remain open each Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. And even though the library will be closed to walk-in visitors on Fridays, staff members will continue to answer emails and telephone calls each Friday.

The State Library doesn’t directly serve most members of the public. Instead, it acts as a support institution for local libraries, offering training, as well as loans of its extensive collection of materials to local libraries around the state.

State employees, elected officials and members of the media are allowed to directly access the library’s collection.

We live in the Information Age, and the State Library is an important information bank, lending intellectual capital that helps expand the knowledge base of a state that desperately needs to nurture its collective brainpower. With that in mind, a “Closed” sign across the library door is an especially disturbing sign of the times.