Re: Fundamental reform of (C) (Fwd)

From: <johnl[_at_]>
Date: Fri, 27 Sep 96 20:23:31 -0400

On 09/25/96, Bernard Katz <bkatz[_at_]> said:
> Well, for one thing, everyone does not have a computer let alone can
> afford the $6 month or whatever for net access. But a great many more
> folks can read and use a library. And this still goes for students as
> well as non-students. The Net is a *priviledged* means of communication
> and access to information at this point in time.

Well there certainly is truth in what you say-- but it isn't quite as stark a contrast as you suggest.

I am blessed with 6 libraries easily available to me:

The Oregon Public Library -- whose budget is about 150,000 per year and which serves perhaps 3000 people in the greater metropolitan Oregon area.<g>

The Oregon Public School Libraries (frankly not very good)

The UW libraries

The State Law Library

The Madison Library

The Wisconsin State Historical Library

I have no idea what the budgets of the last 5 are or what they would be on a per capita basis. Nonetheless I suspect that cumulatively they might approach the cost of an internet connection for the taxpayer.

Most of the libraries' capital is long sunk, but split up on a per capita basis at present value perhaps they might approach the cost of a cheap computer (maybe one of Scott McNeally's "network computers") per family (of course large stone buildings don't become obsolete in 3 years <g>).

This is not a suggestion that we replace libraries with computers and internet connections. I value books much too highly for that.

But we ought not assume that the internet is automatically for the privileged and the library for the poor. In part that is the result of a governmental decison about the model to use to pay for them.

Moreover,I suspect that if we surveyed library patrons we might well find that though open to all, libraries principally serve the well educated. Interestingly when I thought about that, I realize that I use the libraries less than I used to, though I probably am reading more. I think the explanation is that I read more current topical books and the library is a poor source for current materials simply because they are much in demand when released.

Perhaps if Andrew Carnegie were alive today he might be giving grants to communities for Internet connections <g>.    


John Lederer

Oregon, Wisconsin
(Where the citizens are deeply troubled over the cultural implications of the town's first stoplight) Received on Sat Sep 28 1996 - 01:40:39 GMT

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