Monday, January 9, 2012

Dumbing Down the Library

The government is embarrassed of itself; we're ashamed that we exist, and so we have become beggars.  Libraries have been doing it for years.  The right wing in this country has found an easy target, politicians have grabbed the pitchforks and led the charge.  And government services, and especially libraries, are cowering in the corner saying, "Please don't hurt me."

Look at what libraries have done to prove that they really aren't going to be trouble.  Cut hours, cut staff, cut materials.

There are other neat things library directors are doing to make libraries more palatable to those who control the purse strings.

Computers.  Not only do we have public computers, and free wi-fi, but it's now okay for people to bring their coffee and soda to the library, because we don't want Starbucks taking business away from us.  And bring your cell phone, and don't be shy -- talk as loud as you like, because we don't want you to stay out of the library because you feel inhibited by its rules.

And because we need more space for computers, and for the  bistro-like atmosphere we are trying to develop, and of course to save money, we will cut our book budget.  No, no not the bestsellers, we'll still get plenty of those, hundreds of copies so you don't have to wait for them.  But those books not too many of you read, that literature type fiction and those non-fiction books.

And because we don't want you to think we are old fashioned, we are going to spend more on e-books and downloadable audiobooks, but not too much, because, of course, we don't want you to think we are wasting money.  So we won't get those esoteric kinds of books that most of you don't read.

And if we haven't yet convinced you that we are the library of the future, the library that all you taxpayers will want to fund, we are going to carry DVD's -- lots and lots of DVD's.

Our director boasted that our circulation statistics have gone up some ridiculous number, like 45%, since changes he put in place in September.  Well, I'll tell you, in September, we went from limiting DVD checkouts from five to unlimited.  So ask the librarian about the increased checkouts.

When people check out 10, 15, or more DVD's and are back before the week is up, when a parent stocks up on DVD's to keep the kids quiet in the car, we have to ask ourselves -- we really have to ask ourselves, is this what we want our libraries to become?

Count libraries in in the race to the bottom.

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