Public library funding cuts and decline in library usage

It’s easy to find articles that describe a decline in library usage. Recent years have also seen public library funding cuts. What is the relationship? Not long ago, a newspaper columnist advocated shutting down libraries. After all, he claimed, no one goes there anymore. If he had made the suggestion in his column, no one would have noticed. Newspaper readership has taken a much bigger hit. Instead, he used Twitter. And librarians and library lovers quickly made him retract. Actually, the decline in library usage results from public library funding cuts. Unfortunately, the people who control the purse strings haven’t … Continue reading

Shutting down libraries? Why?

Library users love their libraries. Shutting down libraries seems unthinkable. To library users, anyway. But it’s happening. More than 300 libraries have shut down in the UK over the past six years. One major library shutdown recently happened in Oregon. Some people think there should be even more library closures. They’re the ones who don’t use libraries and have no idea what they’re for. Actually, one librarian thinks a few library closures here and there might be good for libraries in the long run. The reasons he gives show what libraries and librarians ought to be doing to prevent any … Continue reading

Have we stopped reading? Becoming a post-literate society

Have we become such a post-literate society that it even extends to how we use libraries? I just read another tiresome puff piece about how the library isn’t obsolete. This one especially highlights how millennials (people ages 18-35) visit the library more than any other generation. But do they read? The article gives only passing notice to books. I don’t find “read” or related words anywhere in the article. … Continue reading

What’s a library without books? Some bookless libraries

I read about a library without books sometime in the late 1990s, I don’t remember what college or university in New York ┬áhad no room in its library for a computer lab. So it opened one in another nearby building it owned and called it a branch library. Why? Because it was staffed with librarians. In principle, it’s not the presence of a book collection that defines a library. A library simply requires librarians. In recent years, however, libraries have experimented with bookless libraries based on digital technology. That is, they have books, just not printed books. How is that … Continue reading

What they say about the library: provocative quotations

When I graduated from library school, I went on a lot of informational interviews. One librarian told me, “Libraries have changed a lot since you were in library school.” When I reminded her that I had graduated only two weeks earlier, she replied, “Like I said, libraries have changed a lot since you were in library school.” Few modern institutions are more ancient than the library, and few are as consistently on the cutting edge of change. So naturally people have talked and written a lot about libraries over the centuries. Cicero, the Roman orator, said, “If you have a … Continue reading