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View Diary: The Library is America's last truly socialized institution and you're about to lose it (143 comments)

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  •  Maybe because the tech didn't exist back then? (0+ / 0-)
    Local libraries were never meant to be high-tech research centers with experts at database searches being available at the beck and call of anyone with a query.

    If the technology had existed when Carnegie was building libraries, he might well have intended that they offer it.

    And I wonder if you would disdain librarians, historically, as  "at the beck and call" of anyone looking for a book.

    •  100 years ago, books were a luxury (0+ / 0-)

      At a young age, Carnegie himself relied on the generosity of a wealthy business owner who opened his personal library to workers one day per week.

      Working families could not afford books.  It was the simple desire to make books available to everyone that drove Carnegie.

      Most importantly, the communities were expected to sign a contract that they would provide the funds yearly for the upkeep of the libraries.  Carnegie did not fund a service. He provided the capital to get started and it was up to the community to do with that what they will.

      Some communities can do more than others.  Charging fees for services outside the charter of a local institution does not seem unreasonable to me.  Each community does what it can and is willing to do, and no one can dictate that other than that community itself.

      •  Books were the then-current technology. (0+ / 0-)

        And, as you say, were a bit of a luxury.  It could be argued that online databases constitute a comparable category today.

        It seems clear that libraries, due to economies of scale, have the ability to provide this type of service relatively cheaply to a large cross-section of people few of whom would find it justifiable to subscribe to such a service individually.

        Some communities are clearly too hard up against it, in terms of the amount of money controlled by their residents, to be able to afford anything beyond bare subsistence, but Los Angeles is not one of them.  A world-class, Olympic level of shamelessness is required for Los Angeles, or California, to poor-mouth.

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