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. ;)