Does the Free Library even know what century it’s in?

Does the Free Library even know what century it’s in?

"The unions that represent library workers would prefer to inject fear and hysteria into the community about privatizing the system, but the reality is that the community should be getting a much higher return on their tax dollars. For instance, visit your local library and request to speak to the branch manager, who might be earning an annual salary up to $70,000, while accruing a lucrative pension package, and ask how a specific Photoshop function works? You know what they are most likely going to do: walk you over to the outdated computer-reference section to find an operating guide on Photoshop. Is this what taxpayers perceive as getting a good value on their tax dollars? You can pay someone $12 per hour to do that."


Like many of your tweets, where is this quote from? This is the very mentality that gets us nowhere. People who are well compensated are far more likely to be productive members of their organizations and their communities. The ideology behind privatizing public sector services is part of an insidious mindset that somehow slashing benefits and salaries (let's face it, it is the only way you make a 'profit' in nonprofit organizations like libraries) is the answer to a problem that is only created from a culture that has lost touch with what brings quality of life. As soon as we begin privatizing education and libraries, we are giving up on our cultural values. There are some things that remain our OBLIGATION to pay for and support in our society. Maybe someone should be asking why private corporations have been paying increasingly LESS in taxes since the 1980s? Who is going to support all of the things that add richness to our lives if it is not the citizens, themselves? To say they are overpaid simply begins the kind of in- fighting that works to the advantage of those trying to undermine very efficient and workable systems that are becoming the victims of corporate greed and short term vision. People need to wake up and get angry.

Jason states flatly that "(l)ibraries should be thought of as technology centers...". Really? While he adds this this, "...that promote literacy and embrace the city’s rich history...", this seems tacked on as a second thought. Based on his lamenting of libraries not providing technical support to help with Photoshop, he appears to focus on the "technology centers" above all else. He only mentions "promoting literacy" at the end of his diatribe, which had only described the "outdated computer-reference section" and "e-books" and helping people figure out how to attach documents in emails. His view of a library is very narrow, but then he is only one person. Another person may see the library only as the source of art books, or for listening to CDs (not totally outdated yet - look at the circulation rates of CDs and DVDs in public libraries). To know that these functions of libraries are important to individuals is important, but to advocate that libraries should focus only on these functions is irresponsible as an activist.

Karen R. Harker, MLS, MPH
Collection Assessment Librarian
Being and Librarianship
University of North Texas Libraries
1155 Union Circle, #305190
Denton, TX 76203

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