Here’s an idea, Ms. Cochran - step up and be a parent. If you think there is material that is inappropriate for your child, don’t let them read the book. Don’t ask librarians and teachers to parent for you - we all have very different ideas about what is and is not appropriate for certain ages, and really it depends on the individual child. Who is going to know what is best for your child, ALA or you?
Actually, I take that back. ALA probably does know what’s best for your child over you, and has no problem letting them read that book.
Public libraries, in some form, have existed since ancient times. In America, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie helped fund countless institutions across the country. They exist, in some way shape or form, in or near most communities in the United States. (For more history, History Magazine has a fairly succinct History of the Library article).
A public library, inherently, is a very “socialist” institution. They are not trying to earn the most money for their investors and share-owners. The share-owners for public libraries are the people themselves. Their tax dollars, along with funding from grants and generous benefactors is what allows the library to operate. Wealthier communities will have wealthier libraries; this is how our society works. Libraries provide services to all members of the community from children to elderly, English speakers to not, rich to poor.
I have been to some very fancy public libraries, with shiny new books, rows of computers, automated checkout machines. And I have been to very tiny libraries, crammed with old, much used (and likely donated) books. The thing that remains constant, despite the differences, is the attitude of the librarians.
Librarians, in general, are VERY concerned with civil and personal liberties. We will not share your library record without a court order, we look away when you’re typing your password. We are also concerned about your welfare and education - we want to help you find the information you’re looking for; we offer workshops and classes (usually free or for a very low fee). We allow homeless people to get warm (as long as they’re not disrupting the other patrons). We (not entirely willingly) babysit your kids, recommend books to read, help them surf the internet. We constantly strive to better ourselves so that we can help you better yourself.
I do not think privatization would change that attitude. What would change? We might have more money to spend on more books or better buildings, which would be great. But we also might then become obligated to remove books the private company finds offensive. We might stop offering services that only reach a small part of the population because they are not cost effective. Fines for late and lost books might increase. WILL these things happen? Probably not. But the danger is there. The biggest problem, however, is that a library will no longer be ‘for the people, by the people’ in the same way it is now.
Now the article. (Aside: did they have to use a picture of the oldest and most surly looking librarian? Really?)
“A lot of libraries are atrocious,” Mr. Pezzanite said. “Their policies are all about job security. That’s why the profession is nervous about us. You can go to a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement. We’re not running our company that way. You come to us, you’re going to have to work.”
This implies that librarians just sit around all day and twiddle their thumbs, waiting for some hapless person to come ask a question.
Maybe this is true for some places, but not the ones I’ve worked. And job security is likely not the reason librarians are concerned about privatization. At least in the way the article is talking.
With private schools, teachers tend to make above the average public teacher salary. It stands to reason that the same would be for public vs. private libraries. However, if someone has been in a position for 35 years, and is still very good at her job, will she be terminated to allow a much younger person (who makes an entry-level salary) to take her place?
As long as libraries continue to offer professional development opportunities, a librarian should be able to keep up on the skills needed for her job, regardless of private or public status. But when an institution meant to serve the greater public becomes interested in making money, I’m not sure the priorities will stay in line.
Edit: However, given the option for NO library vs private one - I will say that any library is better than no library at all.
“And the National Rifle Association says that, ‘Guns don’t kill people, people do,’ but I think the gun helps, you know? I think it helps. I just think just standing there going, ‘Bang! That’s not going to kill too many people, is it? You’d have to be really dodgy on the heart to have that…”—
Eddie Izzard “Dress to Kill”.
When in a grouchy mood, I know I can always count on Eddie for a chuckle.
As a part of my job working for an emerging media consulting company that’s always on the hunt for talented individuals, I get to be a part of a lot of candidate interviews for various positions. During most of these interviews the last planned question I ask is:
Where do you see this whole social / mobile / TV / way people experience things online going in the next two to three years?
This simple question often kicks off a lively conversation about their outlook on technology and how people interact with it. There’s no right answer, but there’s a lot of creative answers.
Where do you think it’s heading?
The comment section doesn’t allow me enough characters…
In the next few years, we’ll see a lot of people’s first (and sometimes only) experience with computers & social media will be via mobile devices. I think we’ll see fewer device-based apps and more mobile-ready web environments. We’ll see more content on demand (as opposed to appointment media). Services like streaming video through Netflix and Hulu will become more available to average consumers, especially as internet enabled TVs begin to hit the market.
On Demand Streaming and Remix culture will start to shift how people treat copyright - this has already begun, but in three years I believe it will start to reach lawmakers. People’s sense of ‘ownership’ in terms of media will become less concrete.
As a result, a lot of cultural artifacts of our time will be lost. Most people do not have proper backup (or preservation) models in place, and the more digital artifacts we create, the more we stand to lose.
“Religion is like a penis.
It’s fine to have one.
It’s fine to be proud of it.
But please don’t whip it out in public and start waving it around,
And PLEASE don’t try to shove it down my children’s throats.”—
“The time is here for responsible Americans to put up or shut up. I refer specifically to those who have credibility among the guileless and credulous citizens who have been infected with notions so carefully nurtured. We cannot afford to allow the next election to proceed under a cloud of falsehood and delusion… To do anything less at this troubled time in our history would be a crime against America.”—