John J. Miller who writes for the National Review and is author of "A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America" writes "Every unpopular book that is removed from active library shelves such as Ernest Hemingway, Marcel Proust, Thomas Hardy, William Faulkner and Alexander Solzhenitsyn from the shelves of public libraries make room for a new page turner like James Patterson, John Grisham or David Baldacci, the three authors most checked out at the Fairfax County Public Library in heavily populated northern Virginia.
Mr. Miller raises a fundamental question: What are libraries for? Are they cultural warehouses that contain the best that has been thought or said? There's a fine line between an institution that aims to edify the public and one that merely uses tax dollars to subsidize the the recreational habits of bookworms.
Fairfax County may think that condemning a few dusty old tomes allows it to keep up with the times. But perhaps it it's inadvertently highlighting the fact that libraries themselves are becoming outmoded.
There was a time when virtually every library was a cultural repository holding priceless volumes. Imagine how much richer our historical and and literary record would be if a single library full of unique volumes had survived to our present day."
Mr. Miller says that the bottom line is that it has never been easier or cheaper to read a book and the cost of reading will get cheaper. If public libraries attempt to compete in this environment they will be increasingly be sen as welfare programs for the middle-class readers who would rather borrow Nelson DeMille's newest potboiler than spend a few dollars at their local Walmart or used book store.
The reality is that readers have never enjoyed a bigger market for books. They can download audiobooks to their MP3 players and listen to them anytime. Companies such as Google, Amazon (Kindle) and Microsoft are making material available to anyone with a computer and browser.
A used computer can be bought at the recycling center at 401 Rock Island for a little as $25 and free training. Check it out. I understand that's where many residents of PHA get their computers and training.
Miller continues "that instead of embracing this doomed model, libraries might seek to differentiate themselves among the many options readers now have, using a good dictionary as a model. Such a dictionary doesn't merely describe the words of a language-it provides proper spelling, pronunciation and usage. New words come in and old ones go out, but a foundation of linguistic and coherence has been laid. Likewise, libraries should seek to shore up the culture against the eroding force of trends.
This particular task will fall upon the shoulders of individual librarians who should welcome the opportunity to discriminate between the good and the bad, the timeless and ephemeral, as librarians have traditionally done They ought to regard themselves a teachers, adviser's and guardians of an intellectual inheritance.
the alternate is to morph into clerks who fill their shelves with whatever their customer wants, much as stock boys and girls at grocery stores do.
Good luck in finding Chrisopher Marlowes "Doctor Faustus" that has survived for more than four centuries but apparently hasn't been checked out at Fairfax library in two years.
After listening, reading, evaluating and seeing, I still contend the $35 million library request is mainly about computers, bricks and mortar and ego's. Meeting rooms abound throughout the community especially in our public schools. If the boys and Girls Club can use Trewyn School(they do now that the Grinnell location has been closed over a year) for free after hours, so can any other public body.
Sorry, I say they could use more money with better management and oversight of all financial transactions by an oversight committee of two or three councilpeople with a eye especially on the use of library credit cards.