|HRMPH! A voice of dissent...finally. I concede that public libraries (as institutions that receive government monies to advance programs) are a lost cause. I do not however think that we should advocate pulling them all down or distributing the books unequally, unless I get first picks:-) I agree with JP that public libraries have interesting books that undermine the very idea of a public library. I found Mein Kampf in my public library. The ideas in that book don't agree with what public libraries are trying to educate (I am speaking of the public education programs that the libraries offer). The whole idea behind these programs is to instruct citizens and their children on how to be more aware of other peoples and cultures (to name but one program). This kind of education can be taught elsewhere and it can be funded privately. The questions (to name but a few) are, 1) how many people want to fund such programs voluntarily? 2) Can we be sure that anyone (any private group) would want to fund such programs? 3) Why dismantle a program that has so many unintended benefits (like providing education to people who would otherwise get no instruction on civilities, culture, etc.)?|
My public library also has a book by Herbert Spencer (A Plea for Liberty) which contains an essay from 1891, by M.D. O'Brian, titled "Free Libraries". That was written, whew, way back in England before there were public libraries like we have today in the USA. I'll just quote the opening sentences so you can get an idea of what it is about: "A free library may be defined as the socialists' continuation school. While state education is manufacturing readers for books, State-supported libraries are providing books for readers. The two functions are logically related. If you may take your education out of your neighbor's earnings, surely you may get your literature in the same manner."
Mr O'Brien criticized a free ambulatory library in his essay. One of the interesting things that I noted was that borrowers (in Victorian England) needed to give their name, address, and OCCUPATION each time they borrowed a book. That reminds me of the public library I used to frequent when I lived in Spain. They also required a list of private information each time I checked out a book. In NY (where I live) my public librarian casually asks for my card. That is, if I can steal their attention away from the person next to me with whom they are arguing about a book that has been checked out for the sixth consecutive month with no promise of return:) How far we have come from those days when philanthropists merely wanted to help the unfortunate illiterate poor to have access to reading.
My public library in Phoenix AZ (yes, I lived all the way over there too) promised to be among the great Wonders of the World. Six floors of solid glass and steel with an indoor fountain and Italian bathrooms. Five-star place! Steam-heated door knobs and fur-lined bathtubs...indoor/outdoor pools and rooftop astronomy deck with a 9-hole golf course:)
Well, one of the floors had a leak in the bathroom and destroyed about 5,000 books. These were taken to a warehouse and sold $1.00 hardback and .50 paperbacks (if you were a Friend of the Phoenix Public Library). I made out like a bandit and increased my personal research library by about 1,000 books. Of course, now I have to face the fact that they all have PHOENIX PUBLIC LIBRARY DISCARD on them:-) Small price to pay for a library that contains extremely rare books, many of which are Objectivist related authors.
I can say personally that my experience with the public library system has been VERY REWARDING!!
I have an activist strategy for SOLO people. Instead of bewailing, beat the poor collectivist and statist logic. JOIN your public library. Then milk it for all it is worth!! Go to your librarian and propose to set up a for profit book store for your OWN profit AND demand that they supply you with discarded books so that you can get back some of the monies that your tax dollars have contributed. Well I know that won't work. :)
Has anyone tried it?
You could also go to your public library and INSIST that they allow you to hold open meetings where you will discuss ways to dismantle the public library system. Well, that probably won't work either, right?
Does anyone disagree with my sweet revenge tactics? I propose actually to play within the rules and milk the system for all it is worth. That is what it is there for. I don't buy into any of the collectivist crap, i.e. "Shame on you for trying to milk the system!"
Oh! I could go on but I will stop:-)