Friday, January 27, 2012
The Chicago Public Library: A National Showcase
With This Library System, Government Isn’t All Bad. (The New York Times, 1/27/2012)
Excerpt: It is now a national showcase. Mr. Daley built 57 new libraries, and the system’s 79 locations served 11 million patrons last year. Book circulation is no longer the main goal, with electronic and other transactions the priority as libraries morph into creative community centers amid the much-chronicled decline in American civic engagement. [Emphasis added.]
"The tragedy from a public-policy standpoint is that an important and credible idea — that we should be skeptical of what government can accomplish — has been completely distorted into this belief that government is inherently a bad thing, and therefore that less of it must be better,” said Charles Wheelan, a journalist turned senior lecturer at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy.
“Government is just how we act collectively to do things that would be hard to do alone — like building roads, keeping airplanes from crashing into each other, doing basic research on cancer, fighting terrorists,” said Mr. Wheelan. “These are not inherently bad things.”
Polling data show that the venom is directed largely at the federal government.