Despite the general leftward trend of librarians on an organizational level, libraries once served a useful function. Once. If the New York Public Library experience can be generalized, the modern library is a place that has few books and a lot of internet terminals and free laptops for homeless people who want to check their Facebook accounts (yes that’s a thing) or watch YouTube videos.
The latest begging letter from the library urging politicians not to cut funds emphasizes the role of the library in
1. Teaching English to immigrants
2. Providing financial literacy courses
3. Teen hangouts
Books aren’t even mentioned. And with good reason. If you can find your way past the stacks of DVDs and random handouts and begging letter table, the computers terminals and the teens squatting on beanbag cushions with their library laptops, you may eventually be lucky enough to find some books. Probably you won’t.
Libraries are cutting their book collections. But you will find libraries being used to push the latest social agendas. Including ObamaCare.
The nation’s librarians will be recruited to help people get signed up for insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Up to 17,000 U.S. libraries will be part of the effort to get information and crucial computer time to the millions of uninsured Americans who need to get coverage under the law…
Libraries equipped with public computers and Internet access already serve as a bridge across the digital divide, so it made sense to get them involved, said Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services…
Libraries also have public spaces where meetings can be held. And they already provide health information to 28 million people a year via public access computers, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal grant-making agency, which will coordinate the new effort with CMS. The two federal agencies also worked together during the rollout of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, experience that should help with this effort, Bataille said.
Libraries will be particularly important in conservative states that are not making much effort to promote the health law’s opportunities.
The library is rapidly becoming a community center rather than a place with books. This is just the natural next step in the process. Being a book lover, it’s hard for me to say this, but if this is what the librarians have in mind for libraries, then it may be time to kill the funding and shut them down.