Sunday, April 09, 2006

My Library is becoming a Blockbuster Video Store.

Library - a noun - and by definition: A place in which literary and artistic materials, such as books, periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, prints, records, and tapes, are kept for reading, reference, or lending.

This may surprise many of you, but I visit my local public library. There are months when I am in there every single week. Virtually every Saturday morning. My wife is a voracious reader and that reality has inspired me to spend more time in the little public building full of books and silence. And while I should read more than I do, I still consider myself to be a patron of the library and I appreciate it's existence.

But the library has begun morphing into something very un-library-like. Each week, especially as we approach the summer months, my local public library looks more and more like a video store than a place filled with books & periodicals.

A few years back it became apparent that free video rentals would bring people in... so more and more shelf space was designated for whatever tapes were donated to the library. This led to DVDs and even CDs finding their way onto the shelves. Soon the paperback racks were being threatened and eventually replaced altogether. (I'm not complaining about "books on tape" as I find myself utilizing this format quite often... I'm talking about movies and music cds replacing novels and non-fiction works.)

Two summers back a section of the reference area was turned into a digital den with eight computer terminals. Initially this was great, one could pop in and check an ebay auction, a Drudge Report or even the odd e-mail account. Not so these days. The computer terminals have become a hang-out for the local high-schoolers looking to spend time in chat rooms or tweaking their MYSPACE.COM pages... counting how many "friends" they have.

With the crowd comes the expected chatter.

The books are just about out-numbered by the videos/dvds/and cds...

The computers are used more for chat room access than reference...

Let's just close the library and sell the place to Starbuck's or Borders... at least we wouldn't have to lie to ourselves about what it is, what's going on there, and what our tax dollars are buying.


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