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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Public Library not for general public anymore

I think I posted last year how shocked I was when we moved here and went to the public library and saw there was a charge for new releases. Coming from a relatively healthy library system, ( I am sipping hot chocolate now from the mug I won in the summer adult reading program), it saddened me that access to all books was no longer equal.

It wasn't that I couldn't plunk down the five dollars or whatever it was for that new release, it was the idea that someone might not be able to. I imagined that struggling family walking into the library hoping to find the latest release from their favorite author and finding instead that they would have to wait until it moved out of new releases. They also charged for movie rentals which didn't really bother me but the book thing did. It seems this was only a precursor to what I could expect.

This year, the local branch of our library has been sold to the city of Collegedale. Since I am a mile beyond the boundaries of this city and do not pay their taxes, my family is now required to purchase the rights to the library for $85 or individually for $60. I went to a different branch still owned by the city of Chattanooga and discovered that since I live in the county, I also would have to pay $60 there.

This is my delimma. I can buy a lot of books using $60 at used books stores and for my e-reader but I hate that libraries must be struggling so much in order to have to do this. So I wonder if, as an author, I ought to buy that membership even though I won't use it that much AND will have to pay overdue fees because I am always late.

17 comments:

  1. Moving a few years ago I was excited to use the town's library. They charge $ to reserve a book. They charge $ to use the internet. They depend on donations for new books. It saddened me. Worse, when I donated five boxes of books, they were unimpressed. Not even a thank you. I rarely go there anymore. After a lifetime of loving and using libraries, this one disappoints. On a positive note, we'll be moving soon and I'm eagerly looking forward to a new library!

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    1. I hope your new library feels more welcoming. You'll have to let us know. Thanks for the comment.

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  2. Wow, I didn't know libraries were charging memberships and rentals now. Wonder if that will soon be the trend?

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    1. I hope not but at least in Hamilton County, Tn that is starting. I know the city that added the library added to the taxes of each of their residents to support it. I wonder how they felt about that?

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  3. Where I grew up, our library shortened their hours until they were never available. As a kid, I never got to go to the library unless it was attached to a school, so I'm sorry to say it, but if they are strapped enough to ask for membership fees, you might want to strongly consider paying up, otherwise there might not be a library. I literally grew up without one.

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    1. That is an excellant point Rena. I love libraries, like I love book stores. I hate the idea that they might not exist at some point. I know I have paid enough late fees in my life to keep at least one institution afloat.

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  4. A city near me that isn't all that cash-strapped closed their library until public outcry got a millage to reopen it. I don't use libraries much, but other people do, so I guess I'd treat it as a charitable donation. Plus if you want you can check books out and stuff.

    And I donate a lot of the books I finish (many of them ARCs I get from Amazon) to a library. I don't get a thank you either--because they have a drop box just inside the front doors. I think that's a great way to do it because then I can just drop the books off without standing around to get them appraised and a receipt or any junk like that. Makes it simple and simple is good when donating to charity is concerned.

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  5. Wow that is sad and pretty pathetic, anything to make a buck, which is the case with almost all things now a days.

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    1. I thought it was really sad too Pat.

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  6. Wow. That sucks. The idea of a library is to borrow items for free. That doesn't sound like a library any more.

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    1. I know, it is some hybrid that I don't have a name for yet.

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  7. Interestingly one of my late mother's favorite causes was the local library foundation. I never knew she was involved until after she passed and I met all the library people who stopped by with food and stories. Thankfully the library in town was the same as it was when I used to go there 40 years ago. Thank you for stopping by my site and leaving such kind words.

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    1. I think that is the big difference in the library systems that are still working, the people committed to making them work. I hate you're having to go through this time. Most all of will experience it but boy does it suck.

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  8. Part of me thinks this idea is okay, we know libraries are strapped for cash, but another part of me knows I wouldn't be able to use my library if there was a fee.

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    1. yeah, I know. Thanks for the comment Sarah.

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  9. I grew up with library visits as part of my childhood. Can't believe they charge for books. It seems criminal.

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