Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Declining State of Public Libraries

The New York Times and Washington Post start off the year with a pair of disturbing stories on the current state of public libraries.

The Times (linked above) has an article on libraries which are either closing in the afternoon hours or banning solo children in order to crack down on libraries being used as "daycare centers." So much for students being able to get studying and research done after school...that's a disturbing situation all the way around, without easy answers, but shutting down completely seems to be an excessive response.

The Washington Post has a story on local libraries which have a policy of discarding books not checked out in 2 years.

That's fine if it's a onetime bestseller or an unused gardening book or cookbook, but this is also leading to classics being thrown out. It's pretty sad if libraries are throwing out writers like Hemingway...there are some authors or books that one simply expects libraries to have, even if they sit idle for periods of time.

One librarian in this article seems to have the right idea, with a program to promote and encourage reader interest in "forgotten classics."

Wednesday Update: Opinion Journal has more on the library system discarding the classics. (Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs.)

2 Comments:

Anonymous Denise V. said...

Thank you for highlighting degradation of American's public libraries. We were so disturbed here in Gwinnett County, GA, by the exact trend described in the Washington Post that we pulled out old library records, started a website www.gcplwatch.org and complained at the top of our lungs until the library director was finally fired. Now, thanks to a library board willing to buck the trend, we're returning to "a more traditional library." Hallelujah!

10:10 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Dear Denise,

Thank you very much for sharing the link to the Gwinnett County Public Library Watch. How sad that the librarian, in a misguided attempt to be a "popular lending library" competing with bookstores, threw away treasures such as the rare Georgia History books listed on the site.

Congratulations on the success making a difference in your community!

Best wishes, Laura

10:34 AM  

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