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Libraries are limited, obsolete

Professor Hirschey seems to be confusing librarians with politicians.

Librarians bring you the local branch and the bookmobile. They bring you subsidized database services and DVD loans. They bring you fact-checked reference books arranged by subject and story books that kids can reach, in English, Spanish and Chinese. They bring you more for less.

Politicians bring you photo ops, well-connected construction projects, and half-conceived ideas. They bring you less for more: fancy new library buildings are often followed by staff cuts, salary freezes and depleted acquisitions budgets.

Professor Hirschey is correct that the public should examine its priorities. If resources are scarce, maybe people don't need showcase buildings, but they do need rich, convenient collections and adequate staffing.

In the meantime, librarians, caught between ravaged budgets and politics, do what they can. The notion of anyone trekking anywhere for their convenience is downright laughable.

October 23, 2006 at 11:50 a.m. ( | suggest removal )