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Book talk on a football board

As most of you know, I am a hardcore fan of NFL football and specifically the San Diego Chargers. I moderate a Chargers discussion board on the web — a bunch of us from the board even get together once or twice a year at Chargers road games.

One of the hot topics these days is the city's opposition to the Chargers' proposal for a new stadium. For the most part, I am in favor of getting something worked out, because I think getting a new stadium built will benefit the city financially for years to come. But San Diego is a city in fiscal disarray, so getting something hammered out will not be easy. Some folk, though, think it's simply a matter of reallocating resources. One guy crossed the line when he declared that he couldn't understand why the city felt the need to increase its library budget; libraries, he feels, are relics of the past.

What can you find in a library that you can't simply Google, he asked. I pointed out that libraries have honest-to-goodness books you can hold in your hand and not have to purchase. They have artefacts, collectibles … more than just books.

He responded by asking when the last time I'd gone to the library was. Well, he had me: it's been about a year, when I needed something that wasn't available in bookstores or online. But I prefer to own books, and I own so many I won't get around to reading for a long time. I pointed out that many of my friends go to the library on a weekly basis. We're voracious readers, and we simply can't afford (or don't want to) spend our meager resources buying books. Others have chimed in. One guy said he just finished the last of three books he checked out from the library over the holidays and pointed out that libraries offer many services, besides its collections, that are valuable to the community. One lady threatened to check out a copy of Pride and Prejudice to read aloud at the next tailgate.

It's good to see my fellow fans belie the stereotype and come to the defense of public libraries!


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jan. 14th, 2006 12:56 am (UTC)
When I first joined the Cambridge Library 21 committee whose charge was to determine what was needed for the 21st century public library there was some thought about the demise of libraries because of the Internet. Pretty quickly we concluded that was complete nonsense. There will always be a huge segment of the population that isn't up to using the latest technology for many reasons ranging from technophobia to affordability. Content isn't free, and the library is a means for sharing of books, art, historical artifacts, and electronic media. Some libraries lend tools. I'd say that a public library has a big component to contributing to the economic health of a community since it is a source of information and recreation that leads to people being more whole and more productive. There is a history for this. Consider Andrew Carnegie and his investment in libraries to hekp people, particularly immigrants bootstrap themselves into society. Now Bill Gates is playing the same role. Most new public libraries have increased the usage significantly over their predecessors because of the space, the content, and the services.

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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