Our short piece about a Fox Chicago News report entitled “Are Libraries Necessary, or a Waste of Tax Money?” generated a huge debate on the site. You can watch the report in the video embedded above.
Many readers rushed to the defense of libraries, as you can see in the long string of comments. Among the many defenders, Andrew Shaffer had this comment: “As they point out in the piece, many patrons are there for the free internet — so that indicates that libraries are becoming sort of an internet cafe, at least in some communities. And, as e-book standards get sorted out, many libraries are putting e-book lending programs into place. Sounds like tax dollars are being well-spent in both cases.”
Author Kay Dew Shostak disagreed with our assessment of the article: “What an incredibly misleading title! You should be embarrassed. After watching the entire clip–there was NO attack. There were questions–but since when is questioning how money my money is spent an attack? The FOX correspondent pointed out the increase in visitors to libraries. The two experts each spoke their opinions–Fair and Balanced. It was just as FOX advertises–‘We Report. You Decide.’ Disagree? Watch it again and find where the FOX correspondent ‘attacks’ libraries. Or is getting two sides to look at just too confusing? That’s why FOX’s ratings are killing all other news outlet’s ratings–they present all the sides of an article. They don’t just tell you what feels good.”
Finally, one reader added some strong thoughts about the costs of library administration. Read an excerpt from the comment below…
Reader wmartin46 added a long comment, including these points: “As a person who has run a rather extensive survey of public libraries in a major metropolitan area, (about 55 public and private libraries), it became clear to me that: 1) libraries are very expensive to run, 2) public libraries do not provide all of the salient data about their cost— capital costs are routinely hidden from public view, 3) simple metrics show that it costs anywhere from $4-$15 on a per-circulated-item, or per visit, 4) library circulation, in some libraries, now show up to 50% DVD/AudioCDs (not books), 5) a goodly percentage (up to 50% in some cases) now use libraries for free Internet access, even though Internet access is as inexpensive as $15/month via the telephone systems.. There were many other revealing cost-related issues, but these were the most important.”