1/10/2017

Are public libraries obsolete?

Philadelphia spends about $50 million per year on public libraries (much more if you count the rental value of the land that they are on).  Lake County Florida (discussed below) apparently spends about $1.1 million on their public library system.  From the Orlando Sentinel:
Chuck Finley appears to be a voracious reader, having checked out 2,361 books at the East Lake County Library in a nine-month period this year. 
But Finley didn't read a single one of the books, ranging from "Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck to a kids book called "Why Do My Ears Pop?" by Ann Fullick. That's because Finley isn't real. 
The fictional character was concocted by two employees at the library, complete with a false address and drivers license number. . . . 
The goal behind the creation of "Chuck Finley" was to make sure certain books stayed on the shelves — books that aren't used for a long period can be discarded and removed from the library system. 
 George Dore, the library's branch supervisor who was put on administrative leave for his part in the episode, said he wanted to avoid having to later repurchase books purged from the shelf. He said the same thing is being done at other libraries, too. . . . 
the Lake County library system receive a percentage of their funding based on circulation levels. . . .
It will be interesting to see what the true usage rate is for books at public libraries.  Only then could we determine if public libraries in their current form make sense.  Possibly public libraries might just end up being some computers set up for people to look at.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Alex said...

The Hamilton County library system has added e-magazines, e-books, dvds, and CD's to their catalogs. And that is basically all I use the library for. I read 30 or so ebooks a year, subscribe to many magazines with Zineo.com through the library, borrow 50 or so DVD's a year, and also pick up the occasional CD to listen to. My kids still get real books too.

1/10/2017 12:27 PM  
Blogger August said...

Unfortunately, libraries are the sort of institution that leftists enjoy infiltrating. Additionally, since libraries have dependable tax money, various vendors create products that only bureaucrats would buy- consider a 'library' of electronic books, for instance. If this were a sane product, the vendor would have a website where anyone could sign up. The local library's money would not be needed. But this is not a sane product- thus it needs to be subsidized. There are even streaming video services. Some libraries are venturing into video games as well.

The American Library Association seems to be involved in both of these things- propaganda and this odd sort of competition with the internet, instead of being complementary to the internet. The average librarian works in the library because he likes to read- it follows then, that as Amazon rapidly expands the amount of stuff to read, librarians would be helping the rest of the world figure out what is good and what is not. It does not appear to be so- they appear to denigrating newer publishing models in favor of the older, leftist dominated models.

This Finley character actually seems like a reaction against the leftist drive to get the old stuff off the shelves. Got to make room for transgender fiction!

I continue to believe high quality information in book form is valuable to have locally. Additionally, library staff should be the people you can turn to when the Google search doesn't yield good results. And youtube should hire some librarians so they can figure out how to be searchable.

But anyway, this is fundamentally a passive service. You create a good library, and you do so knowing most people are going to walk by and go to the bar instead. A library is about self-directed education. You can make such a thing available, but you can't make people use it. Modern libraries tend to lose their core purpose as they attempt to attract people who don't care about self-directed education. There's no use competing with netflix. This doesn't mean your local library shouldn't have dvds, but that there should be some coherent purpose to the collection- they shouldn't just be buying the latest things just to have the lastest things.

1/10/2017 1:26 PM  

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