More Money for the Library When There is not Enough to Fix Potholes??

January 30, 2015

I recently read an article in my small town newspaper that our local library is getting ready to sell a $2,000,000 bond to increase  and modernize its building space. This took me somewhat by surprise. In the age of budget cuts and downsizing it seemed strange that a library would get more funding when they say we don’t have enough to even fix our potholes on my county road. But then again bonds are something to be paid off in the future so the current public office holders don’t worry about them much.  In this electronic age where Wikipedia is a couple of button pushes away and e-books are now outselling the paper copies aren’t libraries kind of like horse and buggy shops of a century ago? I have to admit that it has been several years since I have been in our local library.  But when I started investigating, on-line of course this topic I learned some new things.  Here is a little about what Wiki says about the trends in library usage.

2015-01-19_08-32-59With over 17,000 libraries and 2.5 billion materials circulated annually in the United States alone, libraries are frequently used and highly valued by the public.  However, as libraries modernize, they face an increasingly harsh budget environment, as well as technological disruption in media, scholarship, and education. The political, social and technological environment is one of transformation and uncertainty….

Concerns about a general decline in library usage have proven to be unfounded. Instead, the impact of technology on libraries has been mixed. While usage of some library services, such as reference assistance, has declined, there has been a well-documented increase in the usage of public libraries in the U.S. and Canada over the last decade. Most libraries have added services such as public computers, free wifi, and digital materials such as web sites and e-books, leading to higher overall usage of the library. Counties and cities also continue to invest in library infrastructure. As of 2012, library construction and renovation has remained steady……

SOURCE:  Trends in library usage – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

It sounds like libraries are morphing into more of community resource centers than they are about housing dusty old books. For my local library in particular, a big part of it is about providing Internet access to over 60% of our county population.  AT&T, which is the primary internet provider in our area will not spend the money to upgrade infrastructure that would allow more of our citizens Internet access beyond a snail’s pace.  That is one of the things I really hope gets implemented in President Obama’s State of the Union address. Let the FCC force all those communications providers to give us folks in rural areas Internet access similar to what they have in the cities. It is probably the only way it will happen.

Getting back on topic, I kind of think the word “library” is too 20th century, we should start calling them community resource centers? It does have a nice ring to it doesn’t it?

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4 responses to More Money for the Library When There is not Enough to Fix Potholes??

  1. 

    It is always a mystery to me how our tax money is allocated and ultimately spent. Never the way I think it should be. Stadiums and big business get piles of money and yet roads and infrastructure are left to rot, homeless shelters are inadequate, schools keep asking for more, the list goes on.

    The libraries in our urban Minneapolis area are extremely busy and just extended hours to include Sundays…so apparently some money was found for that…yay! I am a heavy library user but oddly, I don’t browse the shelves much anymore because of the terrific online services they have. I can review, select, reserve, keep lists, make reviews etc….right from home. Books are available from any of the many county libraries. I have a long reserve list for yet to be published books too. I receive alerts when an author on my favorite-author list has a forthcoming book so I can get on the top of the waiting list. I get emails 5 days before books are due and can then renew them online. Check out is self-serve at computer stations where you can also pay a fine with a machine like a mini ATM. I just love it.
    As you implied the libraries also serve the community well….as meeting places, spaces for sales and classes to take place. Summer is filled with children’s programs. This is a wonderful place for young and old volunteers. And yes, the computer stations are usually filled. In the inner city the libraries also will often inadvertently serve as shelter for the homeless during the hours they are open. This can be a problem for staff and patrons but it could be relieved with more actual shelters for those folks. So, yes the libraries are indeed a community resource center and I am most thankful for them.

    If only we could manage the budgets and allocate sensibly without undue pressure from outside interests it might be a better world. But, what do I know?

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  2. 

    I have learned in retirement to revisit and reappreciate what we are provided (via our taxes) in our libraries. I too use e-books and love borrowing and downloading e-books for free from our library. I am also going to story reading sessions with my 3 month old grand daughter. I like your idea, RJ, of libraries trying to rebrand themselves for they have a lot of value if people would simply be more aware of them and use them! I also like the fact that libraries are a prime example of how we can help each other and we can work together to make everyone’s life a bit better – we’re in this together!

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    • 

      Like I said, before I started this post I really have not had any recent experiences with my local library but this exercise has convinced me that they are a valuable resource. I guess I will have to rediscover my local “community resource center”. Thanks for enlightening me you guys….

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