Saturday, July 23, 2011

Nickeling and Diming Library Users: Not a Path to Sustainable Funding

Rethinking Government: Why We Need Library Rental Fees. (The Atlantic, 7/21/2011)

Excerpt:   As a constant user [red flag #1; define "constant"] and supporter of my town library, I am grateful for the access to the thousands of books, newspapers, and periodicals available within the library system. [Red flag #2Print, print, and more print.] But I also have trouble understanding how the public library system has essentially undergone no fundamental change in the last century.  [Red flag #3.  Stuck in the Carnegie era.  What about resource sharing, reciprocal borrowing, consortia, automation, remote access, digitization, advocacy?]

In the last 100 years, the cost of a new book has gone from 10 cents to $30, but anyone with a library card can rent that same book for free. 
[Red flag #4.  The verb is "borrow".]

At a time where the tax burden can often be onerous, doesn't it make sense to ask library users to pay a nominal fee for a book rental?
[Red flag #5.  Print print and more print redux.  I checked the Swampscott catalog.  The library owns audio and video materials.]  When municipal budgets are tightened, almost universally the library is left to hang by a thread. Amazingly, when library usage is at an all-time high, I read about library closings every week across this country.  [Red flag #6.  If anyone should know that this observation is a crock of shit, it's me.  I think Barry might be replaying Camden New Jersey and  Central Falls Rhode Island in his mind.  Or is confused with what's going on in England.]

But I never hear any politician or citizen's group recommending a rental fee to support the library.

Why do libraries get the short end of the stick? For a multitudes of reasons, but primarily due to changes in how people have been gathering since technologies like radio and TV came on the scene. Prior to their introduction, libraries were a community gathering place.  That's no longer the case, and in today's computer-based home environment, the majority of taxpayers in a municipality do not use the public library
. [Red flag #8.  Maybe Sandy could have help Barry research this essay.]

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