Picking out a book, check it in, check it out
What butthead thought that up?
There are credible threats to the existence of some public libraries, coming from anti-tax activists who think everything is on the Internet, or anyone can just go to Amazon and buy anything they need. (My apologies to Lemming, TRP, and any other professional educator who just threw something out the window in fury.) Moreover, a lot of libraries are seeing restrictions in their collections, services, staffing, and hours, because they have a hard time competing for scarce state funding.
I like to think that I'm insulated from that, working in the private sector of librarianship. But truthfully, the amazing OhioLINK consortium is facing some major cuts in the Ohio state budget, which will mean some group resources will get cut. And while Small Liberal Arts College is weathering these economic times better than a lot of our peer schools, we will feel the ripple when we’re unable to pick up the state’s slack. In any situation, there’s the question of whether the administrators who hold the purse strings actually get what you’re doing and see how important it is to long-term health. (We’re fortunate enough to have a supportive administration here at SLAC, but not everyone is.)
So maybe it’s not actually bad timing. This is a good time to think about whether your tax dollars are going where you want them. If you don't know, it’s a good time to find out. Maybe your local public library can help you with that.
When was the last time you went to the library, by the way? One way to think of your taxes, after all, is that it's paying for services whether you use them directly or not. A lot of these services, like education and welfare, or defense, fire, ambulance, and police, you may either not plan on using or actively hope not to, but you still have some benefits from them existing.
But the library is fully elective. You can buy books, but you can also choose to borrow them for free, or just use them for a while and drop them off. You can rent movies at Blockbuster or Netflix, or you can discover (after years, as I did) that the local public library has a really good collection available for free. Or prepaid, if you prefer. As a Book Person, I certainly understand that some books (and magazines and videos) are objects which you just want to own. But since you’ve already paid for your library to buy the stuff you just want to look at, why not go use it? And if they don’t have what you want, look for a librarian who can tell you why not and what to do about it (and maybe something similar enough for the moment).
That’s what we're here for.
Most people like the idea of libraries. We give people the warm fuzzies, and that’s great. But here’s the basic truth: we need to see you in the doors, on the web sites, using the goodies, going to the programs, and telling the PTB that you did.