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Stupid to Plan a Library?
Old 06-07-2011, 05:25 PM   #1
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Stupid to Plan a Library?

In a nearby town, enthusiastic citizens are raising money to build a local branch of the county library. Given that it will take years to get the money and then build the library, and given the dramatic increase in the popularity of ebooks, do you think that that is a bad idea?

And if you say "A library is more than a place to borrow books, it's a place to meet, etc," then I say: "Fine, then build a community center instead."
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Old 06-07-2011, 06:02 PM   #2
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A nearby library was completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and they are still building a new one to replace it.

From what we have seen driving by, the new library seems quite small - - much smaller than the previous one. The only explanation we can come up with, is that it will be mostly for e-books or for requesting books from other libraries. It probably has room for 5-6 stacks and that's about it. Presently there are only a few dozen e-books at libraries in Louisiana but maybe there are plans for this to change.

If there is a building already, your library could be populated with donated used paperback or hardbound books at minimal expense. If there is no building already and a substantial building is being built, I am guessing that perhaps you live in a wealthy county that can afford to pay for new books.

One of the attractions of living in Springfield, was their new library. It has all new books, and they were remarkably well selected. It is huge, and has conference rooms, shops, places to eat, and so on, plus a wonderful reading room with easy chairs and a big selection of reading materials. With any luck, maybe you will end up with a library like that one.
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Old 06-07-2011, 06:03 PM   #3
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If they were planning a facility consisting of just buildings containing paper books, yes, I think that would be stupid. But a library, these days, is generally understood to include electronic access. So, I don't know -- what sort of library will it be? My own use of a library as a place to go pick up physical books and read them has trailed off over the last two decades to practically zero.
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Old 06-07-2011, 06:10 PM   #4
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It makes me sad to see the disappearance of libraries and bookstores with the advent of electronic books (although I am all for them, too). I live in a university town, so likely they won't be extinct, but I do recall one bookstore, locally owned, that I had gone to for years (starting when I was a college student) and loved. You could tell the owners and employees really took pride in every aspect of the business, whether it was book selection, store layout, special event plannings, and so on. But the Great Recession finally got the better of them, sigh...
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Old 06-07-2011, 06:19 PM   #5
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In a nearby town, enthusiastic citizens are raising money to build a local branch of the county library. Given that it will take years to get the money and then build the library, and given the dramatic increase in the popularity of ebooks, do you think that that is a bad idea?

And if you say "A library is more than a place to borrow books, it's a place to meet, etc," then I say: "Fine, then build a community center instead."
The library in my town is of substantial size, offers all sorts of amenities -- besides books (paper and electronic), meeting rooms, computers for use by the public, study rooms, book clubs, etc. plus they host all sorts of interesting speakers on topics from money management to genealogy. They also show movies for children and adults.

They are also part of a fabulous state-wide system call eLibrary -- where I can go online and have FREE access to paper books/CDs/DVDs at several hundred libraries across the state. I use this service frequently (more than once a week) and am always astonished at how quickly these books arrive at my home library. My formerly considerable spending at amazon has almost gone to zero since I discovered this feature.

I see libraries of the future becoming more of a community resource than simply a place to store and retrieve books.

The existence of a convenient, well-designed, well-run, well-stocked library with good amenities is a key decision point if I were to relocate.

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Old 06-07-2011, 06:41 PM   #6
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I do not think it is stupid to build a library. Yes libraries contain more than traditional books today but there is nothing to a book as a resource or source of enjoyment.

My former home community, Bainbridge Island, has a wonderful library and I think the educational attainment of the children in part a reflection of that 'bookish' community.

My current metro area has several library library systems, all very good. As a result my pre-school grandchildren always have books and love to take one to an adult who gladly reads it.
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Old 06-07-2011, 06:41 PM   #7
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I had doubts about the big bucks spent on our city's library (can't remember the dollar amount); however it offers many amenities to the public. I think it's nice to have.

Here's a pic of our library......
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File Type: jpg library.jpg (102.9 KB, 14 views)
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:39 PM   #8
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Around here the libraries are the place where the poor and those without high speed internet go to do their email, surf, do a job application, write a letter, etc. They even give you xx number of free printed pages a month. Alll, paid for by our library tax.

It is also the place where lots of children go to hear story hour, participate in summer reading contests, and do homework.

It is also a place were lots of folks go to read the paper, check out videos etc.

Our library is so popular that often there is no place to park. It is the place for which local voters in the depth of the recession voted for a tax increase to keep it going.
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:41 PM   #9
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Our libes are great and we go every week. Right now the libraries are feeling little impact from ebooks.

But in five years I imagine things will be very different. Every single person will have an ereader. The newest kindle today will cost $1 at garage sales, as CD players do today. Everyone will prefer reading books on their reader. They can get books from a libe or store in New Zealand as easily as from the local libe, so there's no point in the local libe having ebooks.

I may be off on the timeline, and the $ vs free issue may be a factor, but I see the above as inevitable. I'm surprised that more people don't feel this way.
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:44 PM   #10
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Around here the libraries are the place where the poor and those without high speed internet go to do their email, surf, do a job application, write a letter, etc. They even give you xx number of free printed pages a month. Alll, paid for by our library tax.

It is also the place where lots of children go to hear story hour, participate in summer reading contests, and do homework.

It is also a place were lots of folks go to read the paper, check out videos etc.

Our library is so popular that often there is no place to park. It is the place for which local voters in the depth of the recession voted for a tax increase to keep it going.
Right. For none of those things do you need books. And a libe without books is a community center.
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:45 PM   #11
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I would hate to be without a library, use ours all the time. I still have no interest in eBooks, would rather hold a book and turn actual pages even though I am generally not adverse to change.

Unfortunately, more and more our library has become a hangout for the less fortunate (even homeless, and two "mentally challenged"). Internet access for those who can't afford it, people sitting around playing games on them . And not overrun, but there are also people hanging around, some sleeping who may just not have another place to be. Especially noticeable in winter when they're most likely escaping biting cold days. Sorta sad, but not disruptive (I don't think the staff would tolerate it fortunately).
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:52 PM   #12
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I think libraries are kind of outdated. With ebooks, amazon, etc. books aren't hard to come by and don't cost a lot. The idea that the city or county build a repository and offers books to citizens seems rooted in the 17th or 18th century. Surely a needed service in the past, but past it's prime.

Besides, even the larger libraries where I live usually don't have the books I prefer. And now with all the self-published authors, you can find some really good stuff to read, usually in an electronic format and on the cheap. the only difference between some of these self published authors, not all, and published authors is they haven't been "discovered" by the big publishing houses. You won't find them at the local library.
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:58 PM   #13
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I think libraries are kind of outdated. With ebooks, amazon, etc. books aren't hard to come by and don't cost a lot. The idea that the city or county build a repository and offers books to citizens seems rooted in the 17th or 18th century. Surely a needed service in the past, but past it's prime.

Besides, even the larger libraries where I live usually don't have the books I prefer. And now with all the self-published authors, you can find some really good stuff to read, usually in an electronic format and on the cheap. the only difference between some of these self published authors, not all, and published authors is they haven't been "discovered" by the big publishing houses. You won't find them at the local library.
Yours is probably the prevailing view, but if I had to pay for every library book I've read in my lifetime (even on the cheap) it would be a lot of money. And I don't want to own most books I read, not the space or the $. My local small town (pop 30K) library is good about having most every book I've ever wanted, guess I'm lucky. There are worse things my local taxes go towards, but again your view is probably the mainstream...
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Old 06-07-2011, 09:27 PM   #14
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I love books! Technology works fine as long as the electricity or batteries are working. And, I love our local library system.

A few years ago, the powers that be were going to cut funds for the county libraries, and there was such an uproar that they were saved.

We also have a monthly book swap. The public brings whatever books they have read, or no longer want, and we swap. Bring as many as you want, and take as many as you want. I stock up once a month.
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Old 06-07-2011, 09:29 PM   #15
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In my youth meeting a beau at the library was one way to escape parental supervision. For that reason alone I will include our library in my estate planning.
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Old 06-08-2011, 12:02 AM   #16
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In my youth meeting a beau at the library was one way to escape parental supervision. For that reason alone I will include our library in my estate planning.
Ooooooh, that never happened to me, but it sounds so fine.

The only memory of going to the library in my younger years was being scared silly. I just knew I'd get whacked in the head with a ruler if I was speaking (or breathing) too loudly.
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Old 06-08-2011, 12:15 AM   #17
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In a nearby town, enthusiastic citizens are raising money to build a local branch of the county library. Given that it will take years to get the money and then build the library, and given the dramatic increase in the popularity of ebooks, do you think that that is a bad idea?
And if you say "A library is more than a place to borrow books, it's a place to meet, etc," then I say: "Fine, then build a community center instead."
That's a good idea.

Maybe this drive is a grab for politically-available matching funds, and the pitch may be better received as "educational library for our kids & residents to improve their knowledge" rather than "community center for after-school and exercise programs". With a little thoughtful design the library could be converted to a community center when the time comes.

How long has the Internet been hammering down newspapers? How much longer will it be until the New York Times and the WSJ are out of the newsprint business? Until that happens, old-school libraries are probably safe.

Our local library happens to be a community center filled with books and Internet computers. Ironically it's right next to the YMCA. They just finished expanding the parking lot even though we expect people to stop driving their cars so much in the next 20 years...
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Old 06-08-2011, 05:40 AM   #18
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I think it is premature to predict the demise of the library. Some people like libraries (I have five books checked out now) and they will evolve. The one here is also a viable community center used for meetings, children's activities and the like. I think anything that gets a kid's nose in a book has value.
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:05 AM   #19
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And if you say "A library is more than a place to borrow books, it's a place to meet, etc," then I say: "Fine, then build a community center instead."
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But in five years I imagine things will be very different. Every single person will have an ereader. The newest kindle today will cost $1 at garage sales, as CD players do today. Everyone will prefer reading books on their reader. They can get books from a libe or store in New Zealand as easily as from the local libe, so there's no point in the local libe having ebooks.
How about building the community center with a library in part of it? I agree that ebooks will eventually outstrip physical books (they already have at Amazon) but I am not so sanguine about ebooks through the library. So far, ebook titles are very limited. And the publishers are not treating ebook licenses in a manner equivalent to physical books and all signs are they are going for even more restrictions. I fear the demise of the public library in the long term.
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:51 AM   #20
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Our local library loans out ebooks, DVDs, magazines, summer reading club for school kids, story time for toddlers, delivers books to senior center, etc.

Is there any value in this? Well, it has the highest customer satisfation ratings of any the city services provided in our community, even above DPS. That said, I think a trend is emerging to combine youth center, cultural performance center, Sr center and libraries together, but this may not always be possible in some communities.
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