Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Libraries: Pros and Cons

LETTER: I was kind of surprised to see your support of library funding. Those supposed 1,500 patrons are merely homeless people escaping the heat! It won't be long until those libraries that you want funding for are turned into museums where school children will hear how people foolish continued funding an institution whose usefulness was long past.

The Internet and its resources are where funding should be directed. Start a daytime homeless shelter instead of spending money and then calling it a library. Why don't you go to the humane league and get a real watchdog instead of the poodle you currently have working for you?


Although you perception is not uncommon, you and others are out of touch with what is taking place with libraries in this country and locally.

You are correct that the homeless are a problem. Efforts will be made soon to work with the City, St. James (which attracts them with their breakfast problem), and Water Street Mission to try to accommodate their needs elsewhere, as is needed and you properly suggest.

However, they make up a tiny portion of visitors, amounting to perhaps a dozen out of the 1500 daily patrons. Just stop by and you will see for yourself. All inner city libraries do have to cope with the problem. But recognize the importance of such larger facilities to service but City and special countywide needs. (Suburban libraries are important but, due to smaller size, cannot provide as much material or services.)

As for the Internet age, the Duke Street library has expanded its number of computers by 50% this year and will add still more in the months to come, some for the children's department. (This was made possible by a donation.)

Libraries are no longer just a repository of books to be checked out. They provide a variety of educational materials on CD's and DVD's and are destinations for parents with children, teenagers, retired people. They also serve business people, professionals, students and scholars, especially due to their special software.

Furthermore, they conduct valuable educational programs directed at children, parents, teaching computer skills and English, amongst others.

They are busier than ever and other communities are investing heavily in them.