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Old 05-03-2012, 08:23 AM   #31
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Walk into a library in the system and will you find a book by a classic SF writer? Probably not. But you will find most of William Shatner's novels.
Do you mean Shatner is not classic sci fi? It must be a classic, as much of it is more than ten years old and that is ancient.

Somewhat more on topic, I think that the US lacks affordable after-school programs for kids. They are important as the wages are such that both parents need to work just to scrape by, and thus a parent is not available to take care of their children after school. This being said, such programs should probably be budgeted separately from libraries.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:25 AM   #32
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Remember, these are *local* facilities so they are subject to local conditions. Suburban libraries serve a very different customer base than inner city libraries.

In theory libraries are a great educational resource for the poor.
In theory.
The reality on the ground in most areas--how libraries operate, how libraries are used--bears little resemblance to the theoretical model of "bringing educational and literacy tools to the poor".

In many (most?) areas--particularly my old neighborhood--the bulk of the users are middle class with a few working class users. Age? Adults and seniors. Poor kids? Nope.

The way it works is the middle class pays for the libraries and since they're "already paying for it" they consume as much of those services as they can. And the facility gets caught between serving their actual users and their theoretical mission. So they end up investing in entertainment and pop culture--which gets used--at the expense of their theoretical mission, which isn't.

As a rule, the people that most need library services are the ones who least value literacy and libraries. That much is true across locations. And that is where the pushback comes from in tough times. The poor don't use them, the taxpayers see them as convenience services: both would rather see the money go elsewhere.

Not saying it is right or wrong, just that that is how it is.
These are local debates, best understood by the people on the ground.
Don't assume their libraries resemble yours.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:33 AM   #33
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I'd rate this op-ed piece as mostly useless and I'll base that on the comment that Library Science degrees are going to be valueless. We live in a society that keeps generating information at a faster and faster rate. The problems of finding information, categorizing it, and preserving it are getting larger and not smaller. True, the format of the information is changing, but the problems that library science and more generally information management are not going away. Library science probably needs to rename itself, but it already has. The author of the article is just too blind to know that.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:57 AM   #34
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I really don't know how well public libraries are doing. The one I do drive is generally always busy. I think they should maybe downsize a bit & focus on digital distribution though. But I don't know. That's just me.
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:27 AM   #35
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Generally, a county tax levy is only of interest to people in that county. Let the people of Saint Louis County decide what they want to pay for and how they want to deliver services.
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:52 AM   #36
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Generally, a county tax levy is only of interest to people in that county. Let the people of Saint Louis County decide what they want to pay for and how they want to deliver services.
Agreed. However, it is a pretty steep increase, 37.5%
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Old 05-03-2012, 01:55 PM   #37
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I live in St. Louis; my mother worked as a librarian for St. Louis County for something like 35 years. It's seriously screwed up.

For one, besides a lot of management problems (which are quite lurid, she was at HQ, too, this place that they want to rebuild. Imagine a soap opera with people sleeping with each other left and right and all sorts of drama), there is a focus on things besides books - internet, as mentioned, but also DVDs. For a long time they were essentially acting as the DVD rental store for the region.

I literally have 1000s of empty DVD cases that she would bring home to me (since otherwise they would be thrown out). The vast majority were hollywood blockbusters.

Walk into a library in the system and will you find a book by a classic SF writer? Probably not. But you will find most of William Shatner's novels.

This shows the issue

Is it a Library or just a FREE Movie and Game store.
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Old 05-03-2012, 02:15 PM   #38
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"homework helpers" -- why aren't public schools providing this help?

"PCs and printers" -- why are aren't community centers providing this service?

"resumes and jobs" -- why isn't the unemployment office providing this service?

This is why I refuse to support library bond issues. Libraries aren't schools, community centers, or unemployment offices. I'm all in favor of these services, but I want them done by the proper government agencies and not by libraries. If we're going to continue to blur the lines of responsibility, then we should combine public libraries, public schools, community centers, and unemployment offices into one massive government agency.

Strange. When I was a child these services were always provided by the library. Admittedly I lived in a county with a great library system.

After school tutoring/homework help was the library, not the school. Teachers already get paid crap, do you really think they are staying behind for free tutoring? Not hardly.

PCs/Computers - this wasn't a big thing back then as it is now. But access to copiers were available.

Resumes/Jobs - It wasn't there daily but there were programs for people to get resume assistance and job hunting assistance. And seriously: have you ever been inside an unemployment center? They are no more helpful than the DMV. You are a number, not a person.


When I was a child the library system was the heart of the community. The heart. Smaller libraries by schools catered to the young, parents and families. Larger libraries near the "city center" catered more to adults and professional needs.

Our libraries even had summer programs, children programs, theater programs, art...

I have so many fond memories of my time growing up in the library. I wouldn't be the person I am today if my library system was demolished. Some summers I would spend entire days in the stacks. *sigh*
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Old 05-03-2012, 02:23 PM   #39
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It is interesting that the article says "The tax increase would raise property tax on a $450,000 house $51.30 a year." What is interesting about that is that such a house is well over the average valuation for houses in Saint Louis County.

http://www.city-data.com/county/St._...County-MO.html
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Old 05-03-2012, 03:04 PM   #40
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I think there has been really good points made in this thread about the overlapping of services between the schools, community centers and libraries. I would even go further with that and add in the Senior Centers and Park Districts.

I don't agree it isn't in the taxpayers best interest not to fund these services beyond basic education - but I think there is probably advantages to not have such distinct separate taxing bodies for each.

For what it is worth, in or library the "cost" of literacy and educational programs is the cost of the books and other materials and the cost of the meeting space. The Instruction and homework help is provided by an outside organization and volunteers. The library doesn't hire staff to provide those services.

It really doesn't bother me so much to see our library disperse movies - we don't have a huge collection anyway although I know some libraries do. The video games are getting out of control IMHO. It was started as a way to attract participation in some of the youth programs and nights and it seems to be growing and growing. I'm another who has a hard time reconciling the mission of the library with video games.
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Old 05-03-2012, 03:24 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by VaporPunk View Post
OT to teachers + school librarians, increased utility bills, maintenance bills, etc... Would it be more cost-efficient to the taxpayer or less? After all the library is already open. Also, teachers spend more time working out of class then in class already.
You sound like the Director of Libraries in my small town. She does not actually shelve or sign out books -- she simply directs. Her son and nephew work at the library. Son is a librarian and nephew is computer support. Nepotism doesn't bother me, but keeping this two story building open for a small group of people (not counting people taking out movies) is, in my opinion, a waste of money.

My town has another library at the elementary school. If the poor and unemployed and underage need internet access, this single room could be left open longer hours. I'd even pay a couple student teachers to hang around in case kids wanted to drop by with their homework. We also have a library at the middle school which happens to be in the same building as the high school -- which has its own library.

96% of Americans (I know not everyone here is American, but I happen to beand this is from our last census) have a computer and 78% have internet access at home. Every public building in my small town has wireless internet access. I'd bet we could set up something at the food pantry.

Libraries were built when books were expensive to provide access to those seeking knowledge. The were not open 7x24 and they were not open to all people. Generally, they were neither public nor funded by taxes.

Public libraries do not provide complete and convenient access to the most needy. If you are too poor or too young to get to a public school, then maybe you are too poor or young to get to the public library.

Worse, with the arrival of the internet and the demand for entertainment, libraries are no longer the best place to do research -- limited publications and old encyclopedias are no match for the internet.

So, maybe we should put a half dozen computers in a town office with a camera link to the police dispatcher and see if the poor cannot get just as much or nearly as much out of that?

I would certainly be interested to know what % of library patrons are poor and/or do not have access to the internet. In my experience, the poor and unemployed have bigger problems that finding a good book to read.

In my opinion, the need for public libraries has passed.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:11 PM   #42
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I admit it--I love libraries. I lead an evening book club at our downtown library, and I am greatly heartened when I walk through the section of the library that is set aside for students to reach our meeting room and see teens using computers and/or doing their homework, and reading. Sure, some of this could happen in schools, but does it really make a difference if my tax dollars are being spent on the school budget or the library budget?

My employer, a local not-for-profit, also uses the auditorium and the meeting rooms at the library for co-sponsored programming. There are a number of organizations that do this, and in our community, having space at the library to do this sort of thing keeps all of our costs down--we do not need to find governmental funding or donation money to create space of our own. The programming benefits 1000s of people a year.
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:37 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by wizwor View Post
96% of Americans (I know not everyone here is American, but I happen to beand this is from our last census) have a computer and 78% have internet access at home. Every public building in my small town has wireless internet access. I'd bet we could set up something at the food pantry.
I don't know where you got your 78% figure, but the U.S. Census Bureau said in 2009 that 31.3% of all households don't have "internet use at home". Which would put your figure off by 10%.

It's been my experience that internet access is a well-used service at libraries. The main branch of The San Jose Public Library has many, many computers dedicated to internet access (as well as in-house database access) and it's very popular. The wi-fi all branches provide is also very popular. And, unlike McDonald's or some similar spot, you don't have to (or are simply not encouraged to) buy anything. And unlike other public buildings, staying in one spot and reading is the point of going there in the first place.

Of course, it's not just San Jose. When I lived in San Diego recently, the City Heights library had a few computers up for use and there was always a wait to use them. If you didn't need it for very long, you could use one of the 15 minute computers. (This was a life saver when me and my wife went down there for two days to find an apartment, as it gave us the ability to search Craig's list entries and set up appointments while were down there.)

I was at the San Francisco Public Library recently and the first day I was there, I got there a hour after opening. I was to late to get there really for an outlet for my laptop. Fortunately, a guy brought his own power strip and let me plug into it. This was good because my battery is crap. The next day I got there before it opened, and there was a huge line.

Quote:
Public libraries do not provide complete and convenient access to the most needy. If you are too poor or too young to get to a public school, then maybe you are too poor or young to get to the public library.
Not true in urban environments where poor people without internet access at home (or maybe not have a home at all) often live near a library (and the main library at that) and use that for all their internet needs. Densely populated urban areas like the Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, and New York have great demand for their services.

Quote:
Worse, with the arrival of the internet and the demand for entertainment, libraries are no longer the best place to do research -- limited publications and old encyclopedias are no match for the internet.
You are wrong.

First, public libraries have out of print books that are still under copyright, but haven't been digitized. If you want some obscure book in that grey area, public libraries are your best bet.

Second, public libraries have out of print books in general. Many, many books worth reading are out of print. But, even though they can be digitized and released for free, they often aren't.

For example, consider Frederick Dorr Steele. He was the illustrator of Sherlock Holmes stories in the U.S. from The Adventure of the Empty House on. A quick internet search will give you some examples of his work. But it is usually without any context, and systemic reprints of his work along side the stories they illustrate aren't in print anymore. The only two that I know of are Heritage Press's definitive printing of the cannon, and a Mysterious Press printing of The Return of Sherlock Holmes. The Heritage Press edition doesn't have all of Steele's work, and none of it is in color, even if the original illustration was. The Mysterious Press edition has color plates, but only goes up to The Adventure of the Second Stain (the last story in Return).

So, when I wanted more, I had to go to the source: the original Collier's printing of the stories in the U.S. You know where I found volumes of a 100 year old weekly? The San Francisco Public Library. And I could scan the images for free. I'm putting together an ebook of the stores with Steele's pictures.

Third, public libraries have books that go into more depth than most internet sources. Particularly if the subject isn't currently in the public interest. For example, Wikipedia's article on 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Vally, California is o.k., but the book in The California Room at The San Jose Public Library is better if you need more detail. I'm willing to bet that Los Angeles's hosting of the 1932 Summer Olympics is covered in detail at their public library.

Fourth, books themselves are often historical objects. The San Diego Public Library has a special room for rare books. When I was there, they had some illuminated manuscripts on display. And yes, some of them were available for check out. Or you could just read them there. All the books were available at any given time. These books are historical objects and subject of study in and of themselves, beyond the information they contain.

Quote:
In my opinion, the need for public libraries has passed.
You are wrong. Public libraries preserve knowledge in the way that has yet to be achieved on the internet. Information is organized better and is more in depth. On top of that, there is some information that simply isn't available on the internet at all. A lot of time, particularly in the arts and humanities, research requires going to primary sources. The internet has many secondary sources, but primary sources are few and far between. Sometimes, those primary sources are in public libraries. Often in special collections.

I understand that you, personally, may not need a public library. But many others do. Not just the poor, but often middle class people who just love knowledge.

Last edited by Rylon; 05-04-2012 at 02:04 AM. Reason: Minor copyediting.
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:58 AM   #44
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"snip" Long but well written, passionate post. Just mostly wrong, IMO. "snip"
I apologize for "editing" your post but for the sake of brevity...

If the facts in this link are remotely true, libraries are amazingly cost efficient. Admittedly, this is not an unbiased source.

Quote:
Public libraries do not provide complete and convenient access to the most needy. If you are too poor or too young to get to a public school, then maybe you are too poor or young to get to the public library.
This is amazingly incorrect. I volunteered in libraries in NY/NJ and this was not my experience at all. I saw lots of people, young and old and mostly lower income, using the PCs + Internet. Looking for jobs! On a Sunday. When there are lots of help wanted ads in the local paper. I'm all for that!
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:30 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by Rylon View Post
The wi-fi all branches provide is also very popular. And, unlike McDonald's or some similar spot, you don't have to (or are simply not encouraged to) buy anything.
When I use McDonald's wi-fi, I don't go inside. I park long enough to get the info I need, and leave.
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Coos County Library District to lend Sony Readers Nate the great News 6 12-28-2009 02:17 PM


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