In the weeks before Christmas, my husband and my children asked me more than once if I would like an e-reader. Given the amount of reading I do, they thought it would be something I would love, hundreds of books on a convenient gadget. My husband would have been happy if I had expressed interest; it would have been an easy out from the trauma of trying to find something at the mall. As for my children, I realized that they needed some re-education.
The world became mine when the letters on a page started to make sense. I was just starting kindergarten and I was reading whatever crossed my path. The content frequently didn’t make sense but the words did. I got the keys to the kingdom and the golden ticket all in one the day I got my library card. As the letters began to form words for my children, the day each got a library card was a day for celebration. They now had something that they could enjoy for the rest of their lives. School, church, and the library were part of their lives every week.
The United States is a country in dire financial straits, a reality for most countries in the world. When money gets tight, the money managers go after those things that don’t add to the bottom line. In most places, that means schools and libraries. The mayor of Providence, Rhode Island fired all the teachers, everyone. He says he will re-hire the “best” teachers On what basis will he make this decision? I suspect that the “best” teachers will be those on the lower end of the pay scale. Cost effectiveness will determine staffing, class size, enrichment programs like art and music, and how many books are in the classroom and in the school library. Quality of education will not enter into the equation.
Cities and towns will examine their library budgets and decide, unfortunately, that since libraries do not generate money, the cost of maintaining them will have to be contained. Library hours have been cut and acquisitions will be limited.
Besides the obvious, what do public libraries and public schools have in common? They level the playing field for those members of the public who have the most limited financial resources. The rich are getting richer and those on the other end of the scale are having their opportunities reduced.
Then there was the local studies section of Kensington and Chelsea library where I did much of the research that made up The Blood Detective. Without it, it would have been half the book. I doubt Kensington and Chelsea library, being a true blue Tory borough, is under threat, but many libraries out there with local studies collections are, so other authors, researchers and students will suffer. Libraries also give a community its focal point, a place to gather and meet. The death of libraries is just another part of the destruction of any concept of community.
Philip Pullman gives us these ideas: That’s all the greedy ghost thinks libraries are for.The greedy ghost understands profit all right. But that’s all he understands. What he doesn’t understand is enterprises that don’t make a profit, because they’re not set up to do that but to do something different. He doesn’t understand libraries at all, for instance. That branch – how much money did it make last year? Why aren’t you charging higher fines? Why don’t you charge for library cards? Why don’t you charge for every catalogue search? Reserving books – you should charge a lot more for that. Those bookshelves over there – what’s on them? Philosophy? And how many people looked at them last week? Three? Empty those shelves and fill them up with celebrity memoirs.”
Please read Dan Waddell’s article at http://www.murderiseverywhere.blogspot.com
Getting back to e-readers, one of the reasons I have not been interested in acquiring one is that my primary source of reading material is my local library system. There are a limited number of mysteries available for loan to e-readers. Nook supports library loans but Kindle does not. On Friday, the Library Journal had an article written by Josh Hadro which suggests that the issue has already been decided:
“In the first significant revision to lending terms for ebook circulation, HarperCollins has announced that new titles licensed from library ebook vendors will be able to circulate only 26 times before the license expires.”
Please read the Library Journal article at
Independent bookstores are disappearing and Borders declared bankruptcy. Publishers want more from writers while giving little support to the writers who would appreciate it and lavishing support on the writers who don’t need it.