Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Letter on the Death of Libraries

I have long criticized politicians who keep trying to dump public finances into new libraries, because to me it seems like investing in Betamax VCRs or 8-track tape players. An interesting letter to the editor was published in the Vanderbilt Magazine's Fall 2005 edition that trumpets a different reason for the decline in libraries. I have copied it below:

There are two reasons why traditional libraries are dying: the American Library Association and librarians themselves [in reference to the feature article "The Infinite Library," Summer 2005 issue].

In the '60s, the ALA promoted the oversupply of recycled liberal-arts graduates who became librarians. These graduates soon learned that there were too many librarians and too few openings. The graduates also noticed that the ALA promoted alternative politics and lifestyles. Success was not Darwinian, as the best-connected rather than the fittest saw their careers advance.

Librarians who waited for the field to open up were further deceived by ALA propaganda, which downplayed the closing of schools of library science all over the United States. Now middle-aged librarians must retrain to make a realistic adjustment to the job market.

Joe Roberts, M.C.P.
Psychologist and former librarian

Quite interesting. I do agree on one thing - a conservative librarian who belongs to the ALA is no better than a conservative teacher who pays dues to the liberal NEA.

Where do you get the idea that libraries are dying? Only a small sample for sure but the downtown library in Knoxville is a heavily used and a valuable civic center.

There 2004-2005 report is out and available at their website but the gist is: ore people are checking out books, using the computers, and attending programs than ever before. It's been a banner year at the Library! From new technologies and innovative programs to facility openings and logistical re-engineering -- Knox County Public Library is having a banner year.
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