Re-Thinking the Idea of Free Libraries


Reader Commentary at The Berkeley Daily Planet

Re-Thinking the Idea of Free Libraries

I read Barbara Gilbert’s commentary (Sept. 11) with great interest and I second her opinions wholeheartedly.

I would like to expand on Ms. Gilbert’s comments specifically with respect to the Library Bond measure FF. I concluded some years ago that the public libraries should to a significant degree, become user-funded, as are so other many city, county and state services. While the city has managed to spin off much of the library budget from the city core budget onto the property taxpayers, the actual users of libraries get off scot free, which is most irritating, especially in view of the fact that “half of the library usage is by non-Berkeley residents.”

The concept of free public libraries once made sense as a means to help achieve general literacy and provide information to a wide spectrum of citizens (of course that information was mostly ink on paper a century ago.) However, since the days of Andrew Carnegie, the need for free public libraries to promote literacy has greatly diminished.

Full commentary here.


The Barbara Gilbert commentary that is mentioned can be found here.

This is the biggest bologna that I've heard/read in recent times.
There are athenea around - people who join do so because they have a special interest in the collection (the atheneum near me is based around a special collection). Public libraries are *public*, supported by the public, for the public.

You won't find a bigger technophile than me, but the library isn't JUST a repository for books and other media - sad that some people don't get this.

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