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Friday, November 19, 2010

Libraries Still Relevant: Keep Reading (and Paying Your Taxes)

The other day I had an engaging conversation with an eager reader on the street who wondered if many of our fellow South Dakotans are doing any reading and thinking when they vote.

I can't speak to the thinking, but Mr. Gebhart points to encouraging evidence of reading:

The role of libraries and their reinvention is, I think, documented by what Siouxland Libraries has seen since renovating and expanding its main branch. The first six months since the main branch reopened to the public saw record use. During that time, the main library had close to 7,000 visitors a day and patrons borrowed nearly 267,000 items, a 17 percent increase over the same time period in the last year of normal operation. It’s clear the demand isn’t just for printed material. For example, there were almost 54,000 sessions of computer use during that period, meaning the computers there are being used roughly 300 times a day [Tim Gebhart, "Library Dealing with Reinvention Curve," A Progressive on the Prairie, 2010.11.18].

I'll take that as cause for cultural optimism. People want to learn. We need books and libraries and free public Internet access for that learning. In a democracy that depends on educated voters, we have a community obligation to pay for good libraries.

1 comment:

  1. Physical libraries are absolutely pointless at this point. We should re-organize the entire system to be online and hand out e-book readers with wireless access to everyone.

    It would also be much cheaper on a cost for access basis. Scan anything in the public domain (or buy the scans from google) and get it uploaded. Use normal purchasing resources to purchase electronic copies of new works. Let the users vote for which works should be purchased in the next purchasing cycle.

    Now that would dramatically increase the usage of public libraries.


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