Ahem, Mr. Donald Clark and Mr. Paul Biba:

Inflated salaries?

Excuse me?

Many librarians I know are barely making above minimum wage.  As for librarians with degrees, many of them aren’t even making what they should be for their degree level.  If you want to talk inflated salaries, go talk to your politicians, your movie stars and your company CEOs.

And do you really think you could walk into a big bookstore, find a clerk and ask them about a book you’ve forgotten the title of and the author’s name (though you remember the plot), and be able to find it?

Does this person even realize just how many kids frequent public libraries?  Does he even realize how important the library is for kids who have no one to go home to?

I would like to know what library this author has actually been in to give him such a negative viewpoint, because I strongly suspect he’s going off outdated, misleading stereotypes.  No librarian today would intentionally “criminalize” a reader for bringing back an overdue book.  And as for fines, just like in everyday life, there are consequences for mistakes.  When you sign up for a library card, the patron is expected to abide by certain rules — just like your parents expected you to do things, just like your boss or your children expect you to do things, just like your local police department expect you to abide by their laws.  In a library, one of these rules is to bring back your books before they become due, and if you can’t bring them back, to make arrangements with the library (i.e. renewal, or some other way of return).  When you signed that card application, you agreed to this.  And all the librarians I’ve met are more than willing to accommodate special circumstances, if only the patron will ask.

Libraries work hard to serve their communities.  In this age of growing digital technology, they are working harder than ever to provide relevant services to their patrons.  The problems facing libraries today are the same ones that have the ebook community in an uproar — costly devices, obnoxious DRM, supply, demand, and universality of format.  Many librarians I know want to offer more and more digital content.

They just can’t afford to. They can’t afford to be locked into something that won’t be available a year or two or three down the road.

And so, they stick with books.  They work on perfecting their searching techniques, they work to implement social software, they work to provide the community with a central hub where everyone can find what they’re looking for — be it entertainment, facts, or figures.

Libraries aren’t the villain here.

And furthermore, the primary focus of a library is against censorship (I suggest the author read the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights).  Do you really think that, once the government gets a hold of the funds from a closed library that the materials provided through your “subsidized bookstores” will remain uncensored?

Fat chance.

And also, if a library is funded by a county (city, etc.), it is a line item in the budget.  Cut those dollars, and the money returns/stays with the people.

Unless you’re Communist, that is.

On a personal (and final) note, I am appalled by the total lack of credible fact in this article.  [Edit: Actually, thank you Mr. Clark, for pointing out how Great Britain has once again set an example that America should not follow.]

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3 thoughts on “re: libraries as a barrier to reading

  1. That Clark guy has a strong case for “digitial media vs. print” and he totally should have run with that angle instead of going “grrr libraries bad!”

  2. McKenzie: *hugs!*

    Daniel: No kidding!

    And I was disappointed reading his article, because I totally agree that many Publishers (i.e. large conglomerates) ARE confusing the medium with the content — words should be words no matter WHAT form they take, especially today.

    Libraries have no bearing on what publishers do. None. They just have to work with what they’ve got.

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