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Old 06-22-2011, 12:41 PM   #1
tubemonkey
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Are Libraries just for Reading?

At Tacoma Public Library, a new digital lab offers space where teens can create, learn

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Just beyond the main checkout counter, in a soundproof room covered in gray egg carton foam, the future of the Tacoma Public Library is spilling out in graphics, text, video and sound.
~~~~~

“This stuff” is a new array of high-powered computers and state-of-the-art software, collectively known as StoryLab – the Tacoma Public Library’s new digital media center for teens. Funded by a three-year $150,000 grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation with matching funds from the library, StoryLab is believed to be only the third digital media center in the nation now provided by a public library, library officials say.

“This really speaks to the way libraries are changing,” said Susan Odencrantz, the city’s library director. “More and more, there’s a movement toward digital literacy and uploading content. This just lets us take it to the next level to serve people with more modern tools and training opportunities.”
So, are libraries just for reading? and is this a proper use of tax funds when basic funding is being stretched to the limit? Keep in mind that this same library system shut down two branches earlier this year because of poor funding.

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Hamstrung by a $1.9 million budget shortfall and facing an almost certain future of lean economic times, the Tacoma Public Library has pared 24 staff positions and will shut two of its ten branches by the end of this month.

Last edited by tubemonkey; 06-22-2011 at 12:48 PM. Reason: wrong word
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Old 06-22-2011, 12:50 PM   #2
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I think it's a great use of public funds and a great development, but I'd be p!ssed if it was my library they shut to open this new-fangled thing...
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Old 06-22-2011, 12:56 PM   #3
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That sounds awesome to me. Libraries are for learning, and learning takes all kinds of forms. Traditionally, libraries are also for the disadvantaged (with the idea that the poor benefit more from a library than the rich), so it's nice to see them embrace "different" types of learning, besides the usual "here's a physical book, read it" options.

I love libraries.

It IS a shame that they have a lack of funds, and that should be addressed, but I don't think the answer is that they shouldn't evolve and develop.
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Old 06-22-2011, 01:12 PM   #4
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It IS a shame that they have a lack of funds, and that should be addressed, but I don't think the answer is that they shouldn't evolve and develop.
Exactly.

Also, the crux is that if they don't evolve and develop, they will be considered less and less relevant and valuable, and ALL of them will have to shut down. IMO, this is a case of amputating a limb (or two) to save the patient's life.
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Old 06-22-2011, 01:16 PM   #5
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...and to springboard off that analogy, it's like amputating a limb (or two) to save a patient who was in danger of dying but really didn't NEED to be if only we'd given the patient a few more money infusions instead.

OK, I'll stop before someone calls the Analogy Police.
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Old 06-22-2011, 01:16 PM   #6
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Even many years ago libraries were not just for reading, at least in my neck of the woods.

These days it makes sense to spend tax money on computer hardware and software at libraries to keep the playing field even. There are still kids without PC's or internet connection at home. Maybe not the majority but certainly the disadvantaged ones.
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Old 06-22-2011, 01:40 PM   #7
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I'm all in favor of this move by TPL, because it's the future. I also support shutting down more neighborhood branches in large urban areas and consolidating services in regional branches instead. That's how library systems will be able to open a few more digital media centers outside of the main branch.

In these tough economic times, consolidation is the answer.
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Old 06-22-2011, 02:10 PM   #8
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I think it sounds fantastic. I wish something like this had been an option when I was a kid.
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Old 06-22-2011, 02:33 PM   #9
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In an ideal world, I'd think this would be more well-suited to a community center. Though given how many budgets are now, I understand that there may not even be a community center. I'm not sure how I feel about it being done with library funds though.

I worked at the oldest university library in the country for a while about 10 years ago, and we re-modeled during my tenure there. Because of the need for media centers, etc, we had to institute a policy that for every new book that came in and old one had to go out. That is, when we could pry money away from the media lab's $700-a-pop copies of dreamweaver, etc etc. It was miserable. Sure, the compsci students loved getting to play with all that expensive software for free, but at what cost to the rest of the liberal arts undergraduates?

I'm all for kids getting a creative outlet, but I am more for them having books to read. If i had to balance the one with the other, I'm going to pick books everytime. Do I want Dick and Jane to have a place where they can explore music and other outlets? Yes. Do I want my library budget paying for it? No, not really.

Last edited by astrangerhere; 06-22-2011 at 02:34 PM. Reason: spelling bites me yet again.
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Old 06-22-2011, 03:05 PM   #10
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In an ideal world, I'd think this would be more well-suited to a community center.
When/where I grew up, the library WAS the community center. In my ideal world, it would be that way again.
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Old 06-22-2011, 03:07 PM   #11
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When/where I grew up, the library WAS the community center. In my ideal world, it would be that way again.
My thoughts exactly.
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Old 06-22-2011, 04:39 PM   #12
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When/where I grew up, the library WAS the community center. In my ideal world, it would be that way again.
I didn't have library going up that didn't require driving 30 miles. I was far more starved for the books than the community notions. Admittedly, I am what Harold Bloom refers to as a "solitary reader" so clearly that influences my choice here. But so does my county and city property tax bill. I understand breaking out of the box to get kids to libraries, but when that means cutting other libraries or the books in the current one, you lose me.
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:28 PM   #13
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I didn't have library going up that didn't require driving 30 miles. I was far more starved for the books than the community notions. Admittedly, I am what Harold Bloom refers to as a "solitary reader" so clearly that influences my choice here. But so does my county and city property tax bill. I understand breaking out of the box to get kids to libraries, but when that means cutting other libraries or the books in the current one, you lose me.
I agree -- my childhood library was hurting for titles.

If I knew it would go directly to the library, I'd gladly pay extra taxes to support them. As it is, I try to make a donation every 6 months or so. 'Course, I usually ask that they buy more ebooks, so that may not be helping them keep the doors open.
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:33 PM   #14
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From the latin 'librarium', or 'chest for books'.

I don't see why we have to call a computing lab or a community center a 'library'.

Do I think that's a good initiative? Certainly. But why call it a 'library', if not to blow smoke in the eyes of donors?
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:39 PM   #15
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From the latin 'librarium', or 'chest for books'.
Guess my Calibre library, isn't.

Nor is my GoodReads read-online eBooks.

Nor my Kobo library which can also be read online.

The books I've tattooed on my chest count, though, right? Or did you not mean "the twins"?

In other news, just because a word translates literally to something, doesn't mean that's the sum of the word's connotative and definitive meaning.
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