Re: “Taxed to death in Campbell River,” Mirror, Feb. 8
Mike Richmond’s analogy comparing libraries to door-to-door salesmen selling encyclopedias is ill-informed.
He is correct about one thing: everything, or almost, is on the computer – including our library. Libraries are repositories for books, sure, but our library is much more than books. Our library offers free programs for kids and teens, lends eBooks and eReaders, audio books, CDs, DVDs, and digital magazines, and provides computer facilities, Internet access, and information. The library is our community space for the confluence of people and ideas.
Why do we need libraries when we have the Internet? Author Neil Gaiman knows: “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.”
Mike isn’t the first to declare the death of books, and he won’t be the last. The publishing industry is in a transitional phase, but U.S. statistics from the last decade show more titles are being published in print, and more books are being sold than ever before. North American libraries have growing memberships and increasing circulation.
Vancouver Island Regional Library, which operates Campbell River’s library, opened new branches in Bella Coola, Gabriola Island, and Quadra Island in 2012. Construction on new library branches is underway in Cowichan Lake, Cumberland, and Nanaimo. Courtenay and Comox have superb, modern facilities. I am happy there’s talk of a new library – the community of Campbell River deserves one.
Libraries are more than just books
It may come as a surprise to the writer of the note, “Taxed to death in Campbell River”, but one can find other things in a public library besides encyclopaedias; some of the most important being ideas captured in books, journals, newspapers and magazines. Mr. Richmond seems to share the opinion of the Federal government when it closed the research library at Pacific Forestry Centre in Victoria. Namely, cost savings make closure necessary and computers are replacing books anyway.
Like the Federal government, Mr. Richmond is only looking at part of the total cost equation. Before we burn the books to power the computers and step into the resulting darkness maybe we could integrate some of those bookish ideas with human innovation to create a sustainable regional economy so we need not be “taxed to death”.
William L. Wagner
Not dead yet
Surely it is a little early to be predicting the demise of libraries in 2013 because encyclopedias are available online?
Online encyclopedias provide such general information that they do not even have to be cited in a Reference List.
Chances are that, in the future, print books will co-exist with an e-form of delivery, but even that e-book will likely be rented by the library, lent out to be downloaded onto your (expensive) e-book reader, and will have to be returned in two weeks. So much for computers replacing libraries.
A library serves the entire community. A delighted child leaves with a bag of books, a student comes in to research and study, a senior reads two or three newspapers he doesn’t have to subscribe to and the rest of the community use the library to borrow novels and how-to books, to read history, browse periodicals. They take out music CDs, borrow DVDs, audio-books for the hard of hearing, large-print books for the sight challenged, check their e-mails, consult with the research librarian, listen to story telling. It is a place of intellectual pursuit, available to all. Funding a library is one of the most democratic uses of our tax dollars.