Letter: With computers, why spend big on libraries?

It's been a while since we posted One Of These:

"I confess I have not entered a local library this year because my inquisitiveness and reading enjoyment are satisfied online. And, friends, I shudder in this context when I think about the millions of dollars consumed by our public library system, especially locally in building new, large neighborhood libraries and with plans going forward to expand the main library downtown."

-- Dale R. Leslie, Ann Arbor


This person probably has access to needed information and entertainment at home; he/she probably does not need to:

1. borrow books
2. borrow DVDs (I enjoy movies and tv shows a lot from Asia especially but cannot afford to buy expensive DVDs nor subscribe to rental services)
3. attend free entertainment such as concerts
4. have quiet and safe place to read
5. have quiet and safe place to search the Internet
6. thinks of 'public library' within the context of free market (if there is such a thing in 21st century), rather than thinking of such service as 'public good' - that it provides access to all without regard to finances and culture

He works for the local Chamber of Commerce, maybe he's being honest but I kind of assumed this was one of those astroturf 'letters' until I read the link, its pretty local sounding. Basically, I hate that my business pays taxes to fund servcies the people in my community love to use.

What about all of the people who go to the library for Internet access?

From what I understand, libraries are heavily utilized when the economy starts to tank, which seems to be the way we're headed. Perhaps he'll change his mind once a few thousand more jobs are lost and the library becomes the top free-to-the-public info hub of his city.

Congratulations, Dale, you've now discovered that you no longer fit into the library demographic. What about the thousands of other people that are serviced at individual libraries throughout the country? Should they consider themselves outside of the demographic, too?

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