The library regulators also missed the boat

Prince William County is looking at 33 percent reductions. Loudoun is
considering program cuts of 5, 10 or 15 percent. Fairfax agencies have
been ordered to find cuts worth 15 percent, which would mean closure of
14 community libraries on Fridays, elimination of two hours of Sunday
service at eight regional libraries and reduction of new materials by
25 percent. Fairfax libraries would eliminate 305 jobs and purchase
70,000 fewer materials annually if these recommendations are followed,
according to a county report.

Fairfax, the region’s largest jurisdiction and one of the country’s
wealthiest, had taken an aggressive approach to maintaining and
expanding its library system before the downturn. The county opened
three new branches in the past year — in Oakton, Fairfax City and
Burke Centre — where soaring, spacious architecture and an abundance
of computer stations, meeting space and comfortable chairs have
attracted brisk business and happy customers.

Here is the story.  New library books will not, alas, be a countercyclical asset.  Comovement is a bitter pill to swallow. 

Comments

Maybe there will be more book sales?

Reduced library hours aren't the same threat they used to be, at least for me. With online catalogs and requests, my library trips are very efficient- in and out. My browsing in on amazon.

Also, as my library trip durations have declined, I am actually reading more AND my trips have increased in number.

Could someone please remind me why libraries should be publicly funded?

I stopped voting for library levies when the library board decided to spend lots of monies on maintaining a video movie library, and lots of money on computers for games and probably porn.

I like books.

rustbelt: Are you sure those computers were for games and not for providing free internet access? For those without a computer that's just as valuable a service as providing free book access. Yes, there's a lot of unsavory stuff on the internet, but it's also a very powerful and useful tool.

Plus why would you assume they are buying computers for porn? AFAIK most libraries specifically prohibit that sort of thing.

The cut-backs that strike libraries during economic downturns are especially difficult since preliminary research seems to indicate library usage increases during these times: www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/ors/reports/economichardtimestechnicalreport.pdf

There are two cuases on this planet that I wish I had unlimited dollars to help, humane societies and libraries.

I learned to read early and have been doing so for nearly 38 years. I believe we should all be required by law to have a library card and to make use of it.

Libraries are a free source of knowledge and entertainment. Anyone not sharp enough to take advantage of this deserves to be kicked out of the gene pool.

New library books will not, alas, be a countercyclical asset.
=======
There is a strong historical precedent to the contrary, in a way.

The politicians burn them at the top of the cycle, for light/enlightenment.

The people burn them at the bottom of the cycle, for warmth.

"Libraries are a free source of knowledge and entertainment. Anyone not sharp enough to take advantage..."

Pop quiz, anyone see the fallacy here?

Universities. Oh, and there is this thing called the internet. Take a gander to your right. Books!

All that said, being the rabid free marketer I am, libraries are probably the last thing I'd shut down.

I'm beginning to think that one of the main effects of recessions is that they offer plausibility. Noone will get yelled at for cutting costs or firing people they wanted to fire during a recession.

As a child, I used to read all kinds of books from the neighborhood public library. I loved roaming the basement shelves, where books not in high demand were kept. At age 12, say, this was a way to do some independent learning, and to begin to see a wider world. With a library card, I didn't need permission from the school system or from my parents. It was a quiet liberation. What kind of community would refuse some public money to make that available to its young people?

There are 6 public libraries within 5 miles of me, 16 libraries within ten miles, 33 within 15 miles, and 57 within 20 miles. I love libraries and I could easily live with 33% reduction if it came in the form of consolidation.

Nor do I know why I had to get a master's degree to attempt to work in one. All I know is I mighta picked a bad time to try to break into a tax-funded industry.

No offense, but this might demonstrate that not the brightest bulbs get MLS or whatever master degrees to work in non-school libraries and then expect to be paid like unionized public school teachers....

How about a digital library for everyone in the world to have access to everything ever written.

Sounds like Google, Bartleby, etc.

However, most (good) living authors might want to get paid for their work.

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"How about a digital library for everyone in the world to have access to everything ever written." While I admire the 'big thinking' you are obviously doing, do you realize the magnitude of what you propose? Just to do that for the Library of Congress, and just in America, would cost billions of dollars. And to do it internationally, you would need cooperation from foreign governments, first off. Then you would need, I am going to say 100 billion dollars, to build the infrastructure for this project. And who will pay for this world access library? I will tell you. The West. America and a couple of European nations. If we are lucky. Otherwise, just like the UN, you and I, the average American citizen, gets to pay for it through taxes. I don't want to do that, quite frankly.

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