Monday, June 25, 2007

Library funding

We're pretty frequent library users around here. Frankly, though, a lot of our usage occurs online---we order books, have them dropped off at the local branch and run in and pick them up. We'll occasionally spend some time in the branch and several times a year end up at the downtown branch, but not often.

Today's Tennessean reports that currently 20 branches could be closed on Sundays. I don't really have a problem with that. I'm still trying to figure out why they're closed on Friday, frankly. What makes that day better than say, Tuesday? What I am concerned about, though, is preferring the downtown facility over any neighborhood branch. (Yes, I know with more people living downtown it is fast becoming a neighborhood branch.) My point being that with the finite funds we have I'd like to see us support the branches more.

If you want to be the green mayor--encourage folks to walk and bike to their closest branch instead of climbing into their cars for the trip downtown further polluting our air and clogging those streets and parking garages.

If you want to be the neighborhood mayor--ensure that local branches become neighborhood hubs of all sorts--not just library stuff, but community meetings and events also.

If you want to be the fiscally conservative mayor consider that keeping the "Bredesen Memorial Library" open is going to be much more expensive than the one in Antioch, Inglewood or Bellevue. Double check that rate of return per patron number and don't go wobbly. We really only have so much money.

An aside: we are also members of the Hamilton County library because they provide online access to Power Glide language software for $25.00 a year. That's money Metro could have easily gotten from me but they don't want to replicate that service here.

1 comment:

JCSIII said...

The Downtown Library is theoretically centrally located for all Davidson County Residents (it was not built as a branch for downtown residents). The Downtown Library has the largest collection for browsing. The Downtown Library has the largest space for activities. We have had a downtown branch since the turn of the last century, the "Bredesen Memorial Library" as you called it, is not a new concept.

You are correct in stating that the greener option would be local but, especially for kids books, browsing is a more popular method of checking out books. Of course, there is also this wonderful thing called public does pollute but not as much as individual cars; it's cheap, accessible to most, and most kids see it as an adventure.

As far as finite funds. There should be one branch, at least, that is open 7 days a week. To limit confusion it makes the most sense that the "Main Library", as it is properly called is that one branch. Could you imagine a rotating schedule or since we live East, if the Bellevue Branch was the one open 7 days. I don't know the last time you were at the downtown library on a Sunday or a Friday but I've seen lots of people on those days...reading rooms full, computers full, lines at checkout. I don't know numbers but I would say it's ratio of customer to dollar of operation is pretty good.

Branches should be utilized more but it's up to the community to support it and contact legislators and the library admin. If it's not asked for it isn't gonna happen. Until that perfect world exists, I will enjoy being at the Downtown library on Sundays...I can ride my bike there too.