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What are public libraries for?

What are the things that puzzle, enrage, delight and tickle you as you go about your life in Madison?

Re: What are public libraries for?

Postby Huckleby » Thu May 02, 2013 8:14 am

rabble wrote: can see where including videos increases the cost somewhat but not all that much.


Ya, that's a fair point, the transporting probably not a big deal I'm mostly picturing the retrieving and reshelving and other clerical work. Also, they have to purchase a lot of copies of popular new movies to meet demand.
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Re: What are public libraries for?

Postby TheBookPolice » Thu May 02, 2013 8:26 am

Huck, the basic idea of librarianship is to provide a healthy mix of the materials people want to experience, and the materials they should experience. The former without the latter is, yes, something akin to Netflix but with mixed media. But the latter without the former is an academic library, or a private collection.

I wonder how often you actually enter and patronize public libraries, since you seem to be "informing" your position with a lot of supposition.
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Re: What are public libraries for?

Postby bdog » Thu May 02, 2013 8:32 am

FWIW,

"Zero Dark Thirty" - 58 DVD's, 880 holds. 12 blurays, 245 holds.

Added - does netflix have blurays?

I would like to know the ins and outs of the loan system. A librarian once told me that the top hold at the library where the material is returned gets it next, even if there are holds at other pick up locations that are higher in the queue. Makes sense from an efficiency point of view.

It would be interesting to see a visual of what gets sent where. Is there a central hub? Does it's location make sense?
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Re: What are public libraries for?

Postby mifflander » Thu May 02, 2013 8:42 am

[quote="bdog"]FWIW,

"Zero Dark Thirty" - 58 DVD's, 880 holds. 12 blurays, 245 holds.

[quote]

You do realize that is for the entire system Madison is a member of not just Madison proper, right. Around 65 libraries. That's less than on video per library. Madison probably paid for 9 of those. One for each branch.

http://www.scls.info/about/directory.html
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Re: What are public libraries for?

Postby Uncle_Leaver » Thu May 02, 2013 8:43 am

Huckleby wrote:What is "non-profit media mail"? The movies are being trucked-around through the inter-library loan system, it's a lot of overhead and maintaining a video-store-on-steroids.

First a correction: Libraries get a "Library Mail" rate from USPS, so my terminology was wrong. That rate is actually lower than the Media Mail rate available to you and me. And yes, they do ship materials where that's cost-effective (or the Library Mail rate probably wouldn't exist, would it?). They're not all trucked around. Those red trucks you see in Madison and the surrounding areas are delivering only within the South Central Library System, they're not carting stuff up to the northern reaches of the state.

Secondly, libraries get to choose what materials they do and do not lend through ILL, so your blanket statement that libraries lend DVDs is not altogether accurate. Many don't have significant enough collections to do so.

Thirdly, your bemoaning that some poor librarian has to retrieve and shelve all these items is ludicrous. THAT'S PART OF WHAT LIBRARIANS DO! These people are smart, friendly and knowledgeable, and if a bit of busy work helps keep those people employed and engaged with their communities ... well I just can't fathom why you would advocate to downsize them. Because that's exactly what you're doing here.

My horse is not high just because I suggest that a library system should have a purpose, and choices should serve that purpose.

Right. Your purpose. Nothing elitist or egotistical about that. No sir.

What purpose do you see in a public library? Is that purpose served by the library providing video games?

If that library recognizes that as a useful service and chooses to lend them, then ... hell yes.
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Re: What are public libraries for?

Postby bdog » Thu May 02, 2013 8:50 am

mifflander wrote:You do realize that is for the entire system Madison is a member of not just Madison proper, right. Around 65 libraries. That's less than on video per library. Madison probably paid for 9 of those. One for each branch.

http://www.scls.info/about/directory.html

Good point Miffy. I also assume the library gets a deal on these but who knows.

I didn't realize they had blurays. My dvd player recently croaked so I just got my first bluray player. Have not used it yet.

I will be making a trip to the library today. Which one though? Probably several. I like them all.
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Re: What are public libraries for?

Postby Huckleby » Thu May 02, 2013 1:11 pm

TheBookPolice wrote: provide a healthy mix of the materials people want to experience, and the materials they should experience.

People want a lot of things, from video games to foot massages. It is not true that libraries exist to provide services simply because people want them, ever. See mission statement above. The librarians ALWAYS exercise editorial control, even if it is with a generous spirit.

I don't see how video games, for instance, fit into the library's mission. I get movies, but my main issue there is that there is little net contribution the cultural life of the community because they are already so cheap and easy to rent. The subsidy for low income perhaps justifies it.

I do agree with your general premise that the library materials should be a mixture of vegetables and desserts. I am not coming at this as a cultural elitist. Well, that's not entirely true, I prioritize the library supporting the less popular arts & literature, mainly because that stuff tends to be more expensive and therefore inaccessible to culture vultures on a budget.
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Re: What are public libraries for?

Postby Huckleby » Thu May 02, 2013 1:19 pm

Uncle_Leaver wrote: Thirdly, your bemoaning that some poor librarian has to retrieve and shelve all these items is ludicrous. THAT'S PART OF WHAT LIBRARIANS DO!


By this logic, any and all services can be justified. There is no purpose to libraries, they just are. Libraries are merely warehouses for stuff, any stuff as long as it is free to public, and provides tasks for the warehouse workers.

In the rest of your screed, you equate making choices with being anti-librarian. I don't think you are very thoughtful.
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Re: What are public libraries for?

Postby TheBookPolice » Thu May 02, 2013 1:37 pm

Huckleby wrote:
TheBookPolice wrote: provide a healthy mix of the materials people want to experience, and the materials they should experience.

People want a lot of things, from video games to foot massages.

I didn't write "things"; I wrote "materials." I don't understand why you bring up tangential subjects like foot massages, except to tacitly mischaracterize public libraries as seedy bazaars or shopping malls.

Huckleby wrote:It is not true that libraries exist to provide services simply because people want them, ever.

I believe that's why I wrote that the ideal is a mix of request and suggestion -- both a concession to popular culture, and a necessary repository of valuable information.

Huckleby wrote:my main issue there is that there is little net contribution the cultural life of the community because they are already so cheap and easy to rent.

Cheap is not free. Public libraries, outside of municipal taxation, must be free. Bottom line.
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Re: What are public libraries for?

Postby Huckleby » Thu May 02, 2013 2:07 pm

TheBookPolice wrote: I believe that's why I wrote that the ideal is a mix of request and suggestion -- both a concession to popular culture, and a necessary repository of valuable information.


Yes, this is obvious. There is no disagreement.

Lets get down to where rubber meets the road: I don't think that a mix of popular culture should include porn or video games, even though there is high demand. The library should make some value judgments, exercise some discretion, IMO.

Huckleby wrote: Cheap is not free. Public libraries, outside of municipal taxation, must be free. Bottom line.

But cheap matters and should be a consideration. See the library mission statement. We want the library to make best use of its limited resources in providing cultural & entertainment opportunities. Filling unmet needs is an important consideration. When the library duplicates readily available services, it is less effective.
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Re: What are public libraries for?

Postby TheBookPolice » Thu May 02, 2013 2:50 pm

Huckleby wrote:But cheap matters and should be a consideration. See the library mission statement. We want the library to make best use of its limited resources in providing cultural & entertainment opportunities. Filling unmet needs is an important consideration. When the library duplicates readily available services, it is less effective.

Gee, not only does Netflix already exist, but so does Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and countless coffee shops with chairs and wifi. Why do libraries exist at all? Except, whoa, they all require some expenditure of money -- whether it is in the use of those resources, or traveling to the location of those resources.

Public libraries are not only free, but will acquire resources for the patron, and are located in many neighborhoods around the city. You argue for exclusiveness and the primary acquisition and provision of rare or expensive items, and have the temerity to claim you're a library supporter and not really that elitist. That's absolute horseshit, and, in the words of Lee Elia, print it.
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Re: What are public libraries for?

Postby mifflander » Thu May 02, 2013 3:03 pm

The library does rent movies. $3 (I think) for new releases. Walk in business only. But, even new releases are available free if you are willing to put a hold on them and wait.

I don't think Madison offers video games anymore. The theft rate was just too high. They'd be lifted almost as soon as they went on the shelves. Other libraries in the system still do, though.

As far as porn, SCLS currently has 117 copies of "50 shades of Grey" 34 belonging to Madison.
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Re: What are public libraries for?

Postby TheBookPolice » Thu May 02, 2013 3:09 pm

mifflander wrote:As far as porn, SCLS currently has 117 copies of "50 shades of Grey" 34 belonging to Madison.

That's not porn. That's hardly erotica.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... es-of-grey

This book is ubiquitously described as "erotic"; something, evidently, is turning people on. But what? It can't be the sex scenes. They are brief, sporadic and tamer than a Legoland tea party. Basically, there's a lot of chat about bondage that doesn't happen. It may seem kinky at first glance, but look again: this is a book that puts the "b" into anal. At one point, a man's penis is referred to as "his essentials". It's so un-erotic, you could read it to sex offenders and call it therapy.
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Re: What are public libraries for?

Postby Uncle_Leaver » Thu May 02, 2013 3:10 pm

Huckleby wrote:By this logic, any and all services can be justified. There is no purpose to libraries, they just are.

I have absolutely no clue what that's even supposed to mean.

Huckleby wrote:Libraries are merely warehouses for stuff, any stuff as long as it is free to public, and provides tasks for the warehouse workers.

They're not warehouse workers, jackass. And yes, I'm taking personal umbrage here because my mother was a librarian. People get advanced degrees to learn how to "warehouse" this stuff you're droning on about and if you don't think there's a science to it, you know even less than I suspected you did when you started in on this conservative contention of yours.

In the rest of your screed, you equate making choices with being anti-librarian.

Again ... huh? You're talking about gutting services, man. And then you bristle at being compared to notorious down-sizers like Romney. You're an enigma, dude. That's about as nice as I can put it.

I don't think you are very thoughtful.

High praise given your responses to the barrage of salient points thrown at you from all angles in this thread. You don't even really understand the system you're decrying ... oh, but I'm the unthoughtful one.

By the way, have you ever in your life conceded an argument? Because for someone who ended his OP with the words "I'm conflicted," nothing you've written since seems anything but guardedly defensive of your half-baked preconceptions.
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Re: What are public libraries for?

Postby Huckleby » Thu May 02, 2013 3:58 pm

TheBookPolice wrote: Gee, not only does Netflix already exist, but so does Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and countless coffee shops with chairs and wifi. Why do libraries exist at all?

The books at B&N are relatively expensive, and not available to rent. This matters. It means that books are a more effective service than DVDs for the library to offer, given the mission of the library to open-up cultural opportunities. I don't know how to restate this for you so you can finally get it.

As far as the straw-man argument that libraries can't duplicate *anything*, you're extrapolating my argument to an extreme. Lame and dishonest debating trick.

TheBookPolice wrote:You argue for exclusiveness and the primary acquisition and provision of rare or expensive items, and have the temerity to claim you're a library supporter

Again, you've distorted my position, and then followed with personal insults.
I never argued for exclusiveness. My *actual* positions: I don't think porn or video games are a good use of resources. I think a dollar copay is a reasonable expectation for video rentals from people who can easily afford it.
As far as expensive items, you continue to miss the point: the library is uniquely able to make expensive items available to people of modest means. This is inclusive and practical, and just one of several criteria for decision making.
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