On 24/05/2013 20:46, Frances, Melodie wrote:
I say this with only a little bit of snark, but I’m going to guess you’ve never really been poor [student poor doesn’t count]. And not lower class or working class, but poor. A quick and dirty search suggests that 16 % + of Americans live in poverty, and when you are worried about food, 100-200 bucks is a LOT of money. 20 bucks is a lot of money. Plus paying for the service, ink, whatever else you might need. So while you are your wife had the option to drop satellite TV, that is not necessarily an option for those who are living on food stamps and supporting kids or dealing with disabilities. I lived on disability for about 6 years, and it is very little, and I counted pennies literally. So, not trying to be contentious, just saying that unless computers become FREE to homes, there will be a lot of people using libraries or other places. And I don’t think that the poverty issue is going to somehow be miraculously solved …
No, I confess I have never been absolutely poor. My father was a butcher, my mother a home maker. I made my way through college by working in grocery stores and graduated owing nothing. My degrees were not very marketable and I worked in grocery stores for a total of 15 years before I could finally get out, and I was really surprised that I actually did. Even then, I didn’t make a lot of money and I need the library for the reserve collections for the books for class since I could not afford them. And those were the days when books for college were relatively inexpensive compared to what they cost today. I am convinced that without the reserve collections, I could never have gotten any of my degrees since I would not have been able to afford the books to get through college and I would still be working like a dog in grocery stores, probably making less than I made back then because the unions have been broken.
I love libraries. I have said that the library is the place where I learned to become a human being. I do not want to imagine what my life would have been without libraries.
At the same time, what at one time was available only to the more affluent of society has become widespread to even some of the poorest sections of society: television, radio, even books at one time were far too expensive for the majority of people. Sure, if someone is literally living under a bridge (and I sincerely hope that I never get to that point) none of this would make much difference, but in modern society, people are not supposed to get into such a low predicament. (Although unfortunately, current societal thought seems to be changing for some reason) An interesting publication about the poor was published by the Heritage Foundation where they talk about how “well” the poor do today (an organization which I disagree with politically, but the study is interesting) http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2011/09/how_rich_are_poor_people.html. While I don’t agree with the majority of the report and a good counterpoint is from the DailyKos http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/19/1008721/-Misusing-statistics-Heritage-Foundation-claims-that-poor-people-aren-t-poor, it is true that many times poor people are given old video games, or old cell phones, etc. or can buy them used at a big discount. Municipalities *could* make these things available, it would seem through libraries.
That is why I mentioned that e-readers (and associated devices in the future) could also be loaned out. I mean, the fact that millions and millions of ebooks are easily available at the click of a button should not be ignored or belittled. A device connected to the internet represents much more than does a television, a phone, a radio, a book, a DVD player, a movie. And it can be much cheaper than almost any of those other devices. As a boy growing up in a small town in central New Mexico (that was me) something like that would have opened up entire worlds for me. Libraries absolutely should be making those materials more easily findable for the public far more than they are now. I consider it scandalous that you can’t find these materials through library catalogs and that catalogers are worried about punctuation, relator codes and how to describe the same things they have always described instead of making these magnificent materials more easily findable by the public.
Libraries should certainly not be aimed primarily at the poorest of society but for everyone, no matter what their background. If libraries aim only at the poorest, although I may admire the sentiment, they will be missing some of the most influential persons in society. They must appeal to them as well.