Alchemical Thoughts

Some more library doom articles

Posted on: March 10, 2008

Because from barely literate people who think their taxes are wasted to other doomsayers, it seems people will continue to write the libraries' obituary now.

  • The Times (London) says it plainly: "Public Libraries Told to Innovate or Die Out." It does not get any more clear. The context? Margaret Hodge, Culture Secretary, speaking to librarians at a conference.
  • George Elmore, who apparently does not believe in the concept of the public good and has probably not used a library, says to just "pull the plug on the library." The responses in the Gainesville Sun, where the opinion piece was published, are worth a look. It has been picked in a couple other blogs, including the Annoyed Librarian here. Mr. Elmore, doing his part to promote the image of Florida as a less than literate wasteland.
  • Meanwhile, the powers that be in Dallas want to monitor what you do in the computers you use at the library. Reported in the Dallas Morning News, "Council Committee Recommends Monitors for Library Computers." According to the article, " the recommended monitoring software would send an electronic message to librarians and Internet users alike 'when possibly inappropriate content is accessed' on a public library computer, city staff members told council members." Let's not even go into the debate of what is or not "inappropriate content" for a moment. I think we can use common sense on that one. However, the idea that librarians now get to be the Internet police should be worrying a few people.
  • Of course, contrary to popular belief, public libraries are not really free. This report from Vermont Public Radio points out that the "Internet Drives Up Library Use, Costs." This file under the little details some of the 2.0 zealots don't always consider. "Yea, let's give everybody Internet access. A router is pretty cheap" is an often heard line. The router may be cheap, but there are always other costs. It's TANSTAAFL folks.

Update Note: (4/5/08): Some additions to the list:

  • There are always the obligatory pieces of how the libraries are being turned into arcades. Dave Gibson discusses how "Our Public Libraries are Being Turned Into Video Arcades." Of course, to the L2 zealots, that is not an issue since they would rather put in DDR than books more often than not. Anyhow, piece is worth a look if for no other reason than the notion that reading might go back to being something only a few elite people know how to do.
  • Parents leaving children unsupervised in the library is not an American phenomenon. It happens in places like New Zealand too where a mother was fined for leaving son at the library. Personally, I have a very low opinion of parents who do not supervise their kids. Story comes from the New Zealand Herald for March 20, 2008.
  • Meanwhile, in Tewksbury, Mass., they are asking "Should the Public Library No Longer Be Public." It's another look at privatization.
  • Then again, one has to wonder when journalists say that a patron went to a library "to read — that other thing people do at libraries." Read that remark and more in "Beyond Books" by Cornell Green of the Erie Times-News (4/22/08). While the article itself is pretty positive, if you add some of the other items on this list, you could start to wonder. I am all for better spaces and services, but I always ask at what price? When do we stop being a library and become an arcade or a social services hub?

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