Thursday, July 30, 2009

The big bad library denies children books

PA Library Tells 7-Year-Old: You Can't Borrow Books reads the headline in SLJ. With a big picture of a wide-eyed child.

Okay, the situation stinks. A library in Pennsylvania erroneously issued a free library card to a family that lives outside its district. When the child's picture appeared in the paper, library staff realized that the family lives in a district that doesn't pay for the library. When the child's library card expires in January, they won't be able to renew it. Instead they'll have to go to a different library where their burrough does pay for library use.

Now, I don't know how all this was dealt with. The article mentions that the family is embarrassed, so I'm guessing that it could have been dealt with better. If library staff recognized the child in a photo, they must be heavy library users. I'm hopeful that the Memorial Library of Nazareth will examine the incident and figure out what they could have done differently to spare the feelings of this family.

But you know what? Libraries need money. You pay for your local public library through your property taxes. Maybe your county or city or state funds the library, also. If you live in an area that doesn't pay a tax for the library, you may have to pay to get a library card.

It would be wonderful if everything could be free and everyone could have a library card and get free books and magazines without paying a single cent. That is the dream, folks.

But someone's got to pay for the books, the salaries, the internet access, the databases, the newspapers, the electricity, the tiny pencils with no erasers (I hate those things)... et cetera.

Libraries need money. I'm not trying to make the argument that people who don't pay taxes don't deserve library use. I'm just saying that money doesn't grow on trees.

The situation stinks, but I don't know that the Memorial Library of Nazareth deserves to be made out as the Big Bad Evil Library Denying Children Access to Books Mwa Ha Ha!!!

ETA (12:58): Or, we could just lighten up and laugh about it. Colbert style. Thanks, Jill. I needed that. ;)


Jill said...

Ooh this was a segment on The Colbert Report on Monday! Did you see it? It was pretty amusing.

Yvette said...

Tatamy, the town where the family lives is not small, but not poor. They've been asked, if not begged, to join the library numerous times, but they refuse, and their publicly stated reason is that few residents want to use the library. Sad.

Yvette said...

Oops, meant to say the town IS small, but not poor.

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

I'll have to watch the video later, but I wanted to mention that the library I work at is tax-supported, but we are very close to our neighboring county (the line is only about three miles down the road) We require an out of county fee to use our library. The other county has a library, but it's much smaller, so people want to come use ours, but then complain that they have to pay. When we try to explain it's because their tax money goes to another library, they don't seem to get it. I wish there was an easy way to explain this concept to people-a library doesn't just appear out of no where with everything in it coming for free. That'd be nice, but it does require money to run. Any good ways to make that more clear to patrons?

Abby said...

Sarah, we have the same problem at my library - people get upset that they can't check out books unless they live in the county. We're currently investigating reciprocal borrowing, so hopefully someday we can give these people what they want. It makes me miss Illinois where the whole state was reciprocal!

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

I think that would be cool. I didn't know that about IL, but it would be nice. It does get confusing and I hate when people get mad. Let me know how it goes for your library!

Janssen said...

I'm inclined to agree with you.

Richie Partington, said...

For all of the negative things that I can say about financing education and libraries in California, one good thing is that you can go into any California library and get a card. I have cards for Berkeley and San Francisco as well as my home library in Sonoma County. If I am going into those other libraries myself for materials, it saves them time by not having to provide interlibrary services.

Cat Fancy said...

Oh Mr. Colbert, that was wonderful! And yes, I am so grateful everyday for the fact that the whole state of Iowa has reciprocal borrowing.

Lots of people from the big city come to our small town library because we actually have parking, and we send our patrons down there when we don't have a book.