Is a love for Libraries. That is why I was so horrified to see this:
So in response I wrote hte following to the city librarians and council members:
I recently read an article about your current situation on Yahoo! (source) and I am sorry to hear of this. I am also absolutely horrified that it would seem that the city would immediately cut off and shut down the libraries in such a flagrant disregard for the community. While I cannot argue with the notion of these times being tough (I am experiencing such travesties in my own life, where a single job just won't cut it in this country any more... plus I am the grandson of one of the men who sat in the factories in Flint in - I believe - 1932, out of which grew the UAW), but to simply destroy the last outpost where men and women and children are still allowed the opportunity to get a free education, thus perhaps opening doors to ways out of poverty (amongst other things), brings into question only the class - or lack thereof - and morals - or lack thereof - of your city council and, dare I say? your entire city.
I am sorry for you. I wish I could do more than give you words of sympathy and love. I wish I could be that White Knight atop his steed for you. But I am broke-ass poor myself. If the city where I lived began such talks, I would have to ask just exactly where the tax money had been going all along. And I would also have to suggest perhaps that the council members themselves take a cut in pay. ANYTHING to keep the libraries open.
My honest and deepest sympathies and love,
writer, artist, and advocate for free speech and books
Truly sad. What's as bad as books being burned? Watching them slip away due to lack of interest.
Good letter, Lordshen. I know budgets are tight everywhere, but it seems like the library system would be one of the very last cutbacks, especially in a place like Salinas. The irony is mind-boggling.
[This message has been edited by lmskipper (edited 12-28-2004).]
Would book sales and other library fundraisers help?
Actually, I think this is worse than books being burned; books being lost due to apathy.
News from the front about this story...
Like a slap across the cheek, Salinas is taking it on the chin over its decision to close its libraries in order to balance the city budget.
As The Associated Press reminds us in a Dec. 21 story, "Editorials in newspapers from New Zealand to London have condemned the library closings."
Yes, Salinas is in the spotlight, not a very favorable light, but we've attracted world attention with the City Council's decision to close three public library branches -- a $3 million savings.
It's easy to hit a city when it's down. Newspapers and library associations are outraged at how the birthplace of literary giant John Steinbeck literally can close the books on its books.
Even Steinbeck himself, critics are quick to point out, relied on the Salinas library for some of his research.
What the critics fail to say, however, is how Salinas is beginning to take the bull by the horns and already planning strategies for reopening its library system. There is a campaign under way to raise the money to reopen the libraries as soon as possible once they are closed. And they will close, sometime before June 30, perhaps as soon as March.
If the international press is looking for more headlines out of Salinas, we should seize the moment to show how we intend to reopen the library system.
Friends of the Salinas Public Libraries are gearing up to put another tax measure on the spring special election ballot in hopes that residents will save the libraries. Other ideas also are being batted around. So get informed. Salinas voters have shown that if they understand the issues they will support local tax measures to save services.
Contrary to some news reports, Salinas is not alone in its dilemma. The city's decision is part of a wave of library closures across the nation as local governments face strained budgets. Federal funding for public libraries has been cut by nearly $100 million since 2002. Library closures mount as the number of Americans reading literature is plummeting. For the first time in modern history fewer than half of American adults now read literature, according to a National Endowment for the Arts survey.
In Salinas, we celebrate literacy. Every day, more than 2,000 people visit one of three library branches -- Steinbeck, El Gabilan or Cesar Chavez. Nearly 50,000 members take advantage of the system's 240,000 books, free literacy lessons, computer access and homework center.
Salinas libraries will close. However, with the right community support they could reopen before they even are missed. Before our critics write the city's epitaph, let them write the story of how Salinas residents responded aggressively to their state of emergency and quickly reopened their libraries.
Originally published Thursday, December 30, 2004"
Don't you just love how the author of this displaced the responsibilty of what I would deem to be improper city budget management over to the citizens of the city?
My email/reply to the city council? Thus:
"I am unsure if you even know who Susan Sontag is, but allow me to quote from her:
'To have access to literature, world literature, was to escape the prison of national vanity, of philistinism, of compulsory provincialism, of inane schooling, of imperfect destinies and bad luck. Literature was the passport to enter a larger life; that is, the zone of freedom.
Literature was freedom. Especially in a time in which the values of reading and inwardness are so strenuously challenged, literature is freedom.' "
This will be my last post on the matter, to make way for others by others.
[This message has been edited by LordShen (edited 12-31-2004).]
[This message has been edited by LordShen (edited 12-31-2004).]
Susan Sontag passed away just last week, I believe. I feel a kinship with her in that we both have Masters Degrees in English and Philosophy.
I remember reading about the opening of a new public library in either San Jose or Santa Clara which was the most beautiful library you could imagine. Three or four stories high, with skylights, plants and a big open glass-ceilinged rotundra with a park-like setting.
I couldn't find any information on this multi-million dollar facility, but I did find the operating income for the SJ library is over 24 million dollars and the SC facility is 23.9 million.
SAN JOSE PUBLIC LIBRARY (Operating income: $24,228,719; Location: 180 W. SAN CARLOS ST.; 1,743,382 books; 77,956 audio materials; 67,119 video materials; 3,673 serial subscriptions)
SANTA CLARA COUNTY LIBRARY (Operating income: $23,996,547; Location: 1095 N. SEVENTH ST.; 1,281,068 books; 100,729 audio materials; 114,195 video materials; 3,159 serial subscriptions)
So, there are some communities out here in California which are committed to not only keeping their libraries open, but doing it in grand fashion.
[This message has been edited by grasstains (edited 01-06-2005).]
Well, I found something on the library. It's an extaordinary tale how this building came to be, you should read it.
Fri, Aug. 08, 2003
Shared goals, shared building
By Becky Bartindale
It started like many other Silicon Valley ventures: Two movers and shakers meet for coffee, talk about a problem and out pops a seemingly elegant solution that nobody knows for sure will work.
That's the back story on San Jose's latest information technology launch -- a gleaming new building for the first cooperatively run library in the nation that combines the resources of a major metropolis and its university.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library opened Aug. 1, six years after former mayor Susan Hammer and ex-San Jose State University president Robert Caret brainstormed the idea over breakfast at the Fountain Restaurant at the Fairmont Hotel. By teaming up, they reasoned, they could build the kind of landmark building neither could afford alone.
Today their $177.5 million project ranks as San Jose's biggest and costliest civic project to date.
Whether the investment will pay off is being watched with great interest. Even its strongest backers, who have spent years anticipating possible problems, admit that no one knows for sure if the jointly managed library will be a smashing success or something less.
``It's a major experiment,'' said Kevin Starr, California's state librarian. ``It has revolutionary implications for library organization in this country. It means the library as an institution is so important to a community that a number of elements can come together to support it.''
The King library was designed as a state-of-the-art center for lifelong learning.
It's a place where toddlers can sit in pint-size chairs for story hour, teens can hang out in their own room and university students can check out laptops for library use. With everything under one roof, library patrons can pursue their personal and professional interests using the city's popular holdings or the university's extensive research collection. A city or university library card gives access to both.
For families who do not have computers or books and newspapers at home, the library has always been a gateway to opportunity. But here, it is literally a step away from the university. Children can walk through the grand lobby and enter San Jose State through the back door.
``People will go to college because of this library, and their lives and their families' lives will change,'' said Jane Light, the city's library director. Light hopes the children's room will become a destination, drawing bus loads of students on field trips as well as those who live nearby.
Short on space, money
Taking the risk of bringing two distinct organizations together to run a library was driven by the need for more space and the rising cost of library material. The city's main library had outgrown its building more than a decade ago, forcing it to discard one old book for every new book it brought in. The university's two libraries, Wahlquist and Clark, were nearing capacity.
``We never would have seen this library or any other library in our lifetime'' without a partnership, said former university president Caret. He noted that competition for money to build is intense among the California State University system's 23 campuses. The proposal to leverage CSU dollars with city redevelopment agency cash pushed San Jose's library to the top of the capital projects list.
Many have likened the union to an arranged marriage -- one with a carefully drafted prenuptial agreement that includes provisions for divorce.
What it isn't, insists the dean of the university library, is a merger.
``In a merger, someone loses their personality,'' said Patricia Breivik, dean of the university library. ``This is really a marriage -- two strong entities that have come together and are stronger and can accomplish more because they chose to be together.''
Since the new library is bigger and has more technology than before, it will cost more to operate -- an estimated $500,000 to $625,000 extra a year for each partner, officials estimate. Some savings will be realized because neither partner will have to buy multiple copies of some material, but the overall higher costs are a strain in a time of state funding cuts.
Recent budget reductions have forced the university library to cancel extended study hours it offered students at the Clark Library for more than a year.
The new library's construction was completed on time and under budget, managed by the San Jose Redevelopment Agency. It was paid for by the sale of redevelopment and state education bonds, plus about $10 million in private donations. Officials expect to have between $4 million and $6 million left to resolve any late claims. Any remaining money will be used to create a library capital endowment fund.
1.5 million volumes
Rising from the corner of the San Jose State campus at Fourth and San Fernando streets, the 477,000-square-foot building is eight stories above ground and one below. It has 11 acres of floor space and is big enough to swallow eight San Jose Repertory Theatres or the McEnery Convention Center with room to spare.
The King library has:
� Seats for 3,766 patrons.
� Some 290 computer work stations, most with access to the Internet, e-mail, instant messaging, Word, Excel, the library's electronic catalog and dozens of databases.
� More than 400 network ports where people can plug in laptop computers and get Internet access.
� A combined collection of more than 1.5 million volumes and material in 58 languages.
� Special collections devoted to state and local history, and research centers focused on the lives and work of writer John Steinbeck and composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
� Centers focusing on the history and culture of Asian-Americans, African-Americans and Chicanos.
� More than 40 group study rooms, plus space for public events.
� Later evening hours than at the old main public library, because the city has switched over to the university's longer schedule.
� 33 pieces of art by artist Mel Chin to engage people with different parts of the library.
� A grand reading room on the top floor that offers spectacular views of San Jose.
It all adds up to a highly visible community learning and activities hub, supporters say.
``The acceleration of information and its availability has way outpaced the public's awareness of what is here,'' said university librarian Bob McDermand, noting that the new library offers more than 180 electronic databases for research.
``This really benefits students, especially those who are oriented to college, and people who are professionals and want to read more in their fields,'' said librarian Lisa Rosenblum, who manages reference and Web services for the city.
Though the building is large, the librarians have tried to make it welcoming.
A cafe on the ground floor serves food and drinks, which are allowed in the library. And just like at Borders bookstores, a large browsing area near the street entrance showcases the latest and most popular books, videos and music for checkout.
Other popular materials -- the reference section, newspapers and magazines, and the main public library's entire collection -- are on the first four floors. The university's collection occupies the upper floors, responding in part to faculty concerns about possible disruptions, especially from children.
``I want every family in San Jose to feel comfortable there -- that it's their library,'' said Hammer, the former mayor. ``And at the same time, I want it to work well for students and faculty at the university.''
Concerns about access
Planning for the joint library has been under way since 1997. The biggest hurdle was objections by university faculty, who worried about everything from theft and loss to cultural incompatibility. After a year of debate, the Academic Senate gave its approval but tied it to the adoption of a management plan for resolving problems.
One of the top concerns among the skeptics still is that San Jose State students will not have access to the library materials they need.
``If there are 10 books about Alexander the Great, they may still be able to get a book on Alexander the Great, but it may not be the best book,'' said history professor Jonathan Roth. ``Before, they were competing just with other university students. Now they are competing with everyone else, including high school students.''
The library will use software to track whether public library users are frequently checking out material that students and faculty need. If that happens, additional copies would be ordered, Breivik said.
Today, even opponents say they hope the library succeeds, given the size of the investment and the practical difficulties involved in a divorce.
``We're betting the farm on one roll of the dice,'' said English professor Scott Rice. ``I hope the concerns are proven wrong. I don't want it to turn into a fiasco so I can say, `I told you so.' ''
Although the public clearly benefits from having access to the university's collection, the new library has pluses for San Jose State, too, including raising its visibility in the community.
The university ends up with a state-of-the-art library, plus additional building space, including faculty offices, classrooms, labs and administrative space being created by remodeling the old Clark Library, said Don Kassing, the university's vice president for administration and finance. A one-stop student services center -- created on the ground floor of a university parking garage to house employees displaced by construction -- is now a permanent campus fixture.
Although the library is open, the biggest challenge is still ahead.
``I think making it operationally smooth and efficient and user-friendly is a huge challenge,'' Hammer said. ``If I had one big worry, that would be it, but I'm optimistic it's all going to work.''
How will the partners measure the library's success? Largely by customer satisfaction, Light said, and by comparing service and cost benchmarks between the old and the new. Both libraries performed customer satisfaction surveys at their old locations as a basis for comparison.
The San Jose experiment has a lot going for it, say some of California's top librarians. Still, a lot could go wrong, they said, from a fatal clash of cultures to a change of finances or philosophy on the part of one partner.
``If this could happen in more places, it would be great,'' said Susan Hildreth, San Francisco's city librarian. But the exact confluence of factors -- city and university leaders willing to take a risk, a mutually convenient location at the university, and available public financing -- might not be easily replicated, she said.
The collaboration is likely to be ``a real test of leadership and politics,'' said Michael Buckland, a professor in the School of Information Management & Systems at the University of California-Berkeley. ``If there were a stand-off between the city and campus, or if the two library directors didn't get on as well as they do now, it would be more difficult.''
But that is not likely to happen in San Jose, said Breivik, the university librarian: ``We have made up our minds we were going to make it work.''
Contact Becky Bartindale at firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 920-5459.
Some (fairly fresh) news on the Salinas libraries. Besides Mayor Anna Caballero (February 3) unveiling a "Rally Salinas" fund-raising effort, THE Bill Murray chipped in his Pebble Beach (I still think of it as "The Crosby") golf winnings!
Here's an article bout dat:
It's nice to hear. Her tactics still seems like a shake-down to me. But props to Mr. Murray.
You know, I finally "got" this aspect of Fahrenheit 451, near the beginning where the old lady is burned with her books. It wasn't just that particular collection of books, what the contents meant to her personally, or even the fact that they were irreplaceable as books were outlawed. It was not wanting to live any more in a culture which not only didn't value books, but actively worked against them.
Perhaps our own culture has discovered, like Tom Sawyer, "that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it -- namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain." So banning or even making books too expensive and hard to get would work the exact opposite of the goals of the powers that be. They have only to make books so relatively cheap and available that no one values them, provide plenty of distractions, and let it be generally known among the populace that reading and readers are uncool to the max.
All this has just occurred to me while wondering what will happen to my books after I am gone. It may be necessary to even stash some in hiding while living as people don't value them and keep pushing me to get rid of all which makes life worth living. This is a serious issue with which I continually struggle.
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