Saturday, June 12, 2010

Not really comics related, but this is very near and dear to my heart...

SOURCE: Budget woes a chance to remake libraries

Clearly this man hasn’t set foot inside a library in the past year.

While I'll admit there is some justice in his complaints regarding Dallas being slow to adapt new technology (they had just upgraded the public computers to Windows XP while I was working there in the summer of 2008) the whole thing is amazingly ill-informed.

Just to pick out a few choice lines...

libraries are not dying, they're dead

Tell that to everyone trying to find a parking space during story-time at my branch.

Perhaps the system could expand its Bookmobile program, a perfect example of the library literally meeting customers where they are.

Except people still have to get to the Bookmobile stopping points which - in Dallas - means taking a bus if you can't drive yourself, so they might as well just take the bus to the library. Especially since most of the libraries have their own bus stop or are close to a bus stop point.

For that matter, wouldn’t more bookmobiles require spending MORE money the libraries don’t have on vehicles and gas?

For example, a popular attraction is when authors or even residents come into a branch to read to patrons.

This assumes of course that you have an author who is willing to appear for free.

Popular, professional authors (i.e. people your patrons have heard of) generally have very busy schedules and since personal appearances take away from their writing time when they aren't doing book tours their publisher set up, they tend to charge money to do them.

The authors who most libraries can afford tend to be self-published and tend toward genre fiction. And by genre fiction I mean badly edited vampire pornography.

Additionally, the "how to" features deserve expansion, with more classes such as how to build a website or create a Facebook page.

That would require computers that were capable of opening Facebook without crashing.

Actually, I know there was at least one librarian who used to work in Dallas, who tried to do a class or two like that. And he did manage to muddle through a website design class and a MySpace for beginners class, despite handicaps like a lack of a digital projector, a lack of a private computer lab and a lengthy waiting list to borrow a Wi-Fi capable laptop and an S-video capable projector form the city IT department so he could do a PowerPoint show.

When I was a sales representative, I often stopped at libraries during my lunch hour to browse the internet. Whether at the Oak Lawn or Park Forest branch, there was almost always a wait to use a computer.

Yes, I had to wait for a computer nearly every time I went there - but remember, libraries are dead! Not dying - dead!

Not only should the library system assess its budget priorities to get more computers into the system, but also secure other technology aimed at e-book reading.

One question: which reader standard do we use? I checked, Amazon was banking rather heavily on being the only place people could buy books for the Kindle and they weren't doing ANYTHING to make those ebooks accessible to libraries.

But these are the delivery methods young people are looking for,

... on Pirate Bay.

... and libraries should become the place to find them.

... downloading books onto their e-readers using BitTorrent.

While the library is still vital for families, it was never designed to only serve children.

To Serve Children! It’s a cookbook! A COOKBOOK!

Libraries compete with big book stores for adult patrons and must find a way to lure them back.

We do? We provide internet access, book, music and movie rentals and – in some cases – live entertainment for roughly $25 a year. If anything, the big bookstores are competing with us by giving away Wi-Fi in their stores and actually allowing their patrons to read stuff in the store.

It's going to take more than lattes and paninis to win back those who now use coffee shops and cafes as their study hall and meeting place.

So... the libraries need to sell espresso AND lattes?

Why can't the library start selling new books?

*clearing his throat and doing his best Alan Rickman voice*

Because then we’d be a book store, you twit!

Seriously, libraries trying to sell new materials DOES NOT WORK.

True Story: Dallas tried a program in 2008 – Street Smart – in which patrons had the option of paying $5 to rent popular movies and books with no wait. Oddly enough, few patrons wanted to pay that much to rent a movie they can get for the same price or less at the Blockbuster down the street. Even fewer were willing to pay for the privilege of checking a book out. But many of them were willing to line up for a chance to speak with the branch manager and tell them (or anyone else in earshot) that libraries are not supposed to sell books.

If scores of patrons are on a waiting list to check out the new Oprah biography, might some buy a new copy from the library if it was available?

No, because that would require money they either don’t have or don’t want to spend.

You see, libraries mainly cater to two segments of the public.

1. Economically disadvantaged people who can't afford Internet service/books of their own. (i.e. poor bastards)
2. Thrifty people who don't like to spend a lot of money on luxuries like Internet service and books. (i.e. cheap bastards)

The poor bastards can't afford to buy the new Oprah Book Club offering. The cheap bastards won't buy the new Oprah Book Club offering. They won't even pay to RENT it! See the above example, re: Street Smart.

As a southern Dallas resident, at least a couple of libraries are closer to my house than the nearest major book store.

As a southern Dallas resident, there’s probably also at least a couple of crack houses and brothels closer to your house than the nearest major book store. Why not ask Smiley The Pimp about stocking that new Oprah biography?

And when was the last time that your favorite author held a book signing at the local library?

About a month ago. And his local paper is screaming bloody murder because the state spent money on paying an author to do a personal appearance rather than building a new football stadium.