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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Libraries - hotter than cupcakes? cooler than cupcakes?

Libraries and librarians can't seem to escape the media spotlight these days - who'da thunk it? It seems like only yesterday the media was chasing after Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and their ilk - now the headline grabbers are found at your local library.

As you know, it's not all good news. Anna Davlantes of Fox Chicago began an expose-styled report on the Chicago Public Library system with the line, "They eat up millions of your hard earned tax dollars." Not too difficult to see where's she heading from there. You can also read Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey's well-written response to that story. The crumbling of the state library systems has been analyzed a-plenty in the papers and you've felt the effect with our cancellation of van delivery service. The Des Plaines Public Library has found itself in the local news headlines so often of late that we've added a page of news stories to our Web site: "What's New?" ---> "local news articles about the library."

It isn't all gloom and doom, however. Libraries are also riding a wave of public support and gratitude, often from unexpected sources. The Old Spice guy made what I guess you'd call a public service announcement about the value of libraries. It makes its point while also making you laugh. National Public Radio's "MonkeySee" pop culture blog predicts that libraries might be the "next big pop-culture wave." If you click through to that article, you'll see links to plenty of other videos, blogs and traditional news write-ups extolling the value of the library. I worked the reference desk for two hours last Tuesday and was busy the entire time. Clearly people in this neighborhood believe we have good things to offer.

What do you think? Have inexpensive Internet connections and the Googleization of information made the library less relevant to you? Or are we the next big thing, like cupcakes and "Old Spicey?" Ever wonder how much money the library saves you per visit? Do the math with our Return on Investment calculator. Perhaps we are growing fatigued of the rhetoric about "tough economic times," but this much is true - using the library saves you money. Having a great library in your community gives it "curb appeal," too. Here in Des Plaines, IL, the public library has been a bright spot in town for over one hundred years - a classic and yet, possibly, the hottest trend, just around the corner.


  1. I've always thought the Des Plaines Public Library was the best thing this town had/has to offer - both old location and current location. Anyone who thinks the Des Plaines Library isn't worth their tax dollars obviously isn't a regular library user. Where else can you go and take home movies, music, books, magazines, graphic novels, and video games without charge? People make the library a meeting place, as in "meet me at the library. They come for the programs and for a place to relax and enjoy free wireless service. Such a deal!

  2. You can’t imagine the value of the library to me. I get books, DVD’s, and investment info at the library. I’d have to cough up hundreds of dollars for books and DVD’s and thousands for the investment newsletters. And, all that doesn’t count the wonderful free programs offered at the library. I like my library!

    I admit that I’m confused by the accusations of misuse of funds and mismanagement leveled against the old library board; surely if I ran the zoo (or library), I might do things differently. But, what has the old library board done or not done that has thrown everything into such an uproar? If the library has a potential cash flow problem, why not close one day a week from now until it portion of tax funds are released to it?

    It should be simple for the members of the library board, the library administration, the mayor, and the aldermen to clearly state what their position is regarding the library. With the mayor appointing his supporters for library board positions, it seems like favoritism or patronage, because I haven’t seen anything that he wants the library board to do that would improve our already great library. What are the credentials of the old board members and the new ones he’s appointed? I haven’t seen biographies for any of them. Do they have to read or at least watch DVD’s? Can I be appointed to the library board?

    PS Please, Mr. Mayor, appoint me! See, my paw's raised!

    ~ Maggie K


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