Friday, August 17, 2007

Libraries - thriving and diving

Today's New York Times reports that the library in Queens, despite tight funding is flourishing. Francis X. Cline in "A Most Bookish Borough" reports that the library is so popular that patrons are lined up before the staff even arrives. By contrast, southern Oregon's Jackson and Josephine counties closed their libraries due to funding cuts by the federal government for lost timber revenue. According to Meredith May's article, this is the largest library closure in the US. Loss of libraries is especially serious in the rural counties, May reports:

I wish we could call FEMA; this feels like a natural disaster to me," said Ted Stark, interim library director for Jackson County.

"Libraries are so much more than just libraries in rural areas. This is where all the town meetings are held, where all the kids come after school, where everything -- everything -- happens," he said. Indeed, today;s libraries have evolved from merely loaning out books to providing Internet access, reading hour for babies, community meeting centers and art galleries.

This raises again the digital divide between the haves and the haves-not and sets back our students.

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Blogger PaulaMc said...

On a more positive note, while traveling to Eastern Oregon recently, my husband and I stopped to visit Prineville (yes, the one that's home to Les Schwab) and they have this really wonderful fairly newish and very large public library (Crook County). The Library Director was on the reference desk that day so we shared our surprise and enthusiasm and he informed us that for years he had managed to convince the residents that he was just like them. I won't use any labels here, but suffice it to say, he laughed and we joined in as he described the subterfuge that had allowed him to get the necessary votes to fund their wonderful library. --Paula

9:09 AM  

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