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 #2. Print, 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.]