Let's make our libraries indispensable!

Let's make our libraries indispensable!
So – here’s part of the recipe. (I’m not claiming to have thought of everything.)
•Pack libraries with books.
•Open when people are around.
•Have fast internet connections and computer-literate people at hand to help.
•Bring in lots of tables and chairs.
•Open loos in libraries.
•Associate epub books and Kindle books with books in their traditional form so people can switch seamlessly between them.
•Provide comfortable places to sit and read.
•Install coffee and lunch shops. (Experience of libraries which have already done this shows how the atmosphere can be lifted.)
•Employ cheerful, friendly librarians – who are not only able to show you where books are but tell you what’s in them. My current expectation when I walk into a library is that the people behind the counter (note where they are!) will conform to old-fashioned stereotypes of defensive doctors’-receptionists – and their politeness is so, so . . . detached. They don’t seem to be enthusiasts!
•Abolish fines. Books will be handed back in the end. Some of us just like to hang on to them longer than others and stop borrowing when fines top the price of buying.


The only one I don't agree with is abolishing fines. If there were no fines, especially on our DVDs, there would no incentive for people to bring them back on time, or ever. A lot of our new materials, both books and DVDs, have numerous holds on them and if people weren't worried about fines, they'd keep the material longer than necessary. We are the ones who have to deal with the angry and frustrated patrons who want to know why the book or DVD they are on the waiting list for is three weeks overdue and hasn't been returned yet.

I think instead of just abolishing fines altogether, there should be a week, or even a month, set aside where people's fines get wiped out (unless they are for lost or damaged books). I know here we have weeks set aside where kids and teens have their fines waived or patrons have their fines waived if they bring in donations/canned goods for Foodlink.

Also, since public libraries are non-profit, fines are one of the few revenue sources we have.

I like/love the other suggestions but...

We do NOT have fines at our Church library and we lose TONS of books. Lose is a nice word, in a round about way they simply stolen.

Thinking they will come back eventually simply isn't true and it isn't fair to ask the community to pay for books that will simply get absorbed into personal book collections. Also, for popular items that have lots of holds its quite unfair.

Most of this is already true for most public libraries, with the exception of fines (which will always be necessary, sorry to say) and coffee shops.

Here's a thought: visit your local public library! You will probably be very pleasantly surprised to find such a wish list was mostly fulfilled years ago.

Libraries already ARE indispensable. Use them and find out for yourself!

It's not just about books anymore; it was always more than that: community resources, freely accessible education for all, book discussions, cultural events, exhibits, reference works you would never be able to afford on your own (or find comparably online), people who actually care to help you find information or what you want to read, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Seriously, go to public libraries, pick up their newsletters or visit their website. You might be shocked, perhaps even upset you have not done so earlier, because, while too many people have fallen under the mind-numbing spell of a few major search engines and have been duped into thinking "search engine = library" (when nothing could be further from the reality), many others have been promoting, working at, or visiting libraries with much joy and love, and they wish more people knew and understood and appreciated without doubt all that libraries do for their communities.

Do not take my word for it. Visit your library, please. Only then can you see for yourself and say, "Libraries already are indispensable." Then, if you are not already a member, join if you can and find out what you have been missing all this time.

Quite a few public libraries do have cafes or coffee shops (ours does, for example), although they no more make sense for every library than any other universal prescription. And many libraries have occasional fine grace periods (sometimes connected to food drives). Otherwise, I agree with most of this--and, to be sure, *U.S.* public libraries have had increasing use both in good times and bad. (Worth noting: The cited articles from the UK, where public libraries have had harder times.)

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