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1 elizajane  Mon, Apr 11, 2011 10:12:30am

This saddens but does not surprise me.

When the public schools teach my kids how to do a research paper, it's all about the internet. ALL about the internet. I'm the one who makes them actually go to a library and find books on the subject. In fact, many of the students entering the public university where I teach have never been in the stacks of a library -- even when they are sophomores here! And they represent the top 1-5% of high school graduates.

That's information. As for fiction or leisure reading, nobody under age 30 does it if it's not on a screen. I've held out against any sort of e-reader for my kids, but I think I'm the only parent who still does.

Libraries have tried to adapt to being "information centers" and they still are, for the poor who cannot afford computers and internet access. Any public librarian has had unemployed people coming in to write up a CV on the library computer, or to find online job listings. Since the new US budget pretty much eliminates funding for One-Stop Career Centers, the public library will soon be the ONLY place where such people can look for jobs.

But hey, now that everybody has a job (and a computer, and free internet access), we don't need libraries OR Career Centers, right? ///

On One-Stop Career Center defunding:
[Link: www.washingtonpost.com...]

2 kirkspencer  Mon, Apr 11, 2011 11:36:20am

Oddly enough I think libraries could, and eventually will, adapt. Lots and lots of small steps, and the two largest burdens are nostalgia and money.

Without any attempt to belittle, let me give you an example you brought up. I push ebook readers, a LOT.

I push them for the elderly because they solve the large print problem. That's a problem public libraries have. A large minority of their patrons need the larger print. At the same time most books aren't printed in large type, when they are they're usually abridged instead of whole, and regardless they cost more.

I push them for the heavy readers (as opposed to the bibliophiles). The ability to carry a host of books in one small, light package is wonderful. I speak as someone who reads quickly. I've not timed myself in years, but as a comparison point it only took me about half a day to read Weber's last Honor Harrington novel. Three 'normal' paperbacks a day is easy. If I go on a trip I used to have to carry half a dozen books and know I'd run out even with things to do.

I push them HEAVILY for students. The neighbor has a child in 6th grade. Out of curiosity we weighed her pack - 35 pounds. Enough.

But I lamented above that e-books were killing libraries. That's sorta true in that libraries are stuck with books. Some are beginning to provide ebooks for their readers. There are, well, issues. They'll get resolved eventually, but in the meantime a lot of people with nostalgia for a building full of print aren't willing to give money to chase the future.

You're right in the main, however. The biggest problem is an echo of other problems we have at this time; that several people in key positions seem to think IGMFY. That they fail to realize that if they want the bustling, growing environment in which they grew they have to feed and water it; have to pay the price.


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