5 January 2014


This is going to get a lot of coverage. A new library has opened in Texas. So what?

It has no paper books.


CS McClellan/Catana said...

Maybe not soon, but eventually, this will prove to be a massive failure of judgment. The least of it will be the first time the power goes out.

Anonymous said...

Our small town received a grant a few years ago to go towards building a library. They spent millions of dollars refitting a church to use as a library, stocking it with books, and now have to pay to staff it every day.

We have about 2,000 families in our town. The town could have purchased a couple e-readers for each home (Amazon is selling them as low as $70 - retail, and I'm sure the town could get a "deal"). Total cost $160,000. Give everyone a generous credit to purchase some content, and we are still at a fraction of a million.

Our governments need to get much more efficient with money. Ironically, government entities are about the last ones to adopt essential technologies. Our town could have saved millions of dollars. We'd put content in people's homes, where they are more likely to use it. (You would be appalled at how few people make the trip to their local library).

There would be no late fees. There are tons of books you can get for free for e-readers. So many benefits.

Instead we have a building that very few people go to. Sigh.

Richard Herley said...

You seem to be under the misapprehension that the government and its employees have your interests at heart. A project such as the one you describe offers many opportunities for enriching them, whether legitimately or otherwise …

And it's no good voting them out, because the next lot will be just the same.

As for your Kindle scheme, I agree it would be cheaper, but why should the townsfolk who (a) don't want or (b) already have an e-reader pay anything at all? Rather than employ people to carry out the scheme, surely it would be cheaper not to hire them and let those citizens who want an e-reader buy it from the consequent savings in tax. They would then be free to choose any model or brand they pleased, at no risk of "subsidizing" any deal made between a government-appointed buyer and an e-reader manufacturer.

The role of public libraries used to be vital. Back then, working people had little or no money for books, and a man who wished to better himself regarded the local library, and the evening classes run by the Working Men's Association, as his only route out of poverty. In these days of universal welfare it is difficult to make the argument that libraries should have any priority of funding. All a poor man needs now is a functioning laptop, an internet connection (both affordable under welfare), and the URLs of such sites as Project Gutenberg and the Khan Academy. Most of the squawking we hear when a library closes comes from people on comfortable incomes who can easily afford to buy their own reading matter but are content to let everyone else -- including the poor -- subsidize it for them.