Author Topic: Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!  (Read 18641 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!
« on: July 04, 2013, 03:04:48 AM »
Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!



A Jacksonville resident reaches out to Metro Jacksonville to share his concerns about the possible closing of several public library branch locations across the city.

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2013-jul-jacksonvilles-libraries-should-not-be-closed

ronchamblin

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Re: Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2013, 08:19:44 AM »
                                                           
How many branches should there be?  To go to extremes, one can imagine a branch every three miles throughout the county.  To the other extreme, one can imagine perhaps only two branches, along with the main downtown library.  Somewhere between these extremes lies the best, or ideal, number of branches .... a balance one might say.


The balance is determined by measuring the need/demand for, and measuring the ability to pay for, the branch libraries.


Exceeding demand approaches frivolity and waste, while an extreme failure to meet demand, approaches neglect and shame, because what is at stake is the learning and exploring resources for the young.


Therefore, it is critical to somehow measure the demand or need for branch libraries.  How does one measure demand? 


The other component affecting the desired balance is that of the ability to pay for the branches, and it arrives upon the scene with more difficulty and sincerity now because of the poor economy.


The ability to pay is affected by two components; by the size of tax revenue gathered from citizens, and by the decisions made by those in government concerning how to divide the spending of the revenue.
 

Therefore, the balance as to the correct number of library branches, if it is to be achieved, is a consequence of measuring the need/demand, and is a consequence of proper tax revenue effort against the decisions as to the use of the revenues.


If it is true that our great concern is to be that of the education and mental enrichment of our young ... and adults, then those in positions to make decisions affecting the size of the tax revenue and the expenditures of the revenue, have before them a sober responsibility.  The young are dependent for now on the decisions of adult citizens.  The young are resources of great potential value to our city, and to society.


However, to allow the importance of the education of the young to cause without limit an unnecessary inflation of library branches, is to be careless and wasteful.  That is why it is important to somehow accurately measure the need/demand for the branches. 


Some might suggest that the need/demand for branches has decreased somewhat as a result of the Internet environment, although it is understood that some households might not have Internet access.  But to assume that those few without Internet access at home deserve an otherwise unnecessary branch library near their neighborhood is unwise and costly.  The reduction of branches means that some will have to travel further to a branch.   


$30 million for a big TV screen and stuff at the stadium?  Ultimately, at this point, who knows if the investment in the big TV and big lights/pool will have a reasonable lasting benefit to the city.... or if the expenditure will be a long term waste, and therefore another shameful decision?


But again .... It is possible, without measurement of demand for each branch, to have some waste in branches.
 

The young.  Concern.  Balance.

   

           

 
 

         
« Last Edit: July 04, 2013, 05:43:19 PM by ronchamblin »

Garden guy

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Re: Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2013, 08:57:57 AM »
It seems to me that a growing modern city such as jax claims to be that we would be adding libraries...not removing them...these learning centers for the public..arent they as vital as having the largest scoreboard in the world..i wonder..of those that are making the decisions...how many have had to use the library ...another example of the haves trumping the have nots...there seems to be cash for the wrong things

Dog Walker

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Re: Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2013, 10:17:07 AM »
Both Alachua County (Gainesville) and Orange County (Orlando) have special dedicated funding for their library systems which are fantastic.  They can do long range planning since they can project what their funding will be from year to year.

They have adult literacy programs, English classes, job search classes, computer classes, kid's reading programs, outstanding periodical collections, classes in how to use the library collections for research and they are open seven days a week until 9PM.

They are heavily used by everyone in the community.

I was collecting signatures for the petition at Willowbranch Library (the very first branch library BTW) when a man accompanied by his two young daughters approached our table.  Both girls had books in the arms to be returned.  He was almost in tears when he told me that he was divorced from their mother and could only see them on the weekends.  "I can't afford to take them to movies and amusement parks," he said.  "Bringing them to this library is the only time I get to be a father.  Please don't let them close it."

Libraries are about more than just books.

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thelakelander

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Re: Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2013, 10:28:19 AM »
^I was just about to say that.  Libraries are more than just books.  I really don't see how you can achieve the type of things the community mentioned in the recent JAX 2025 visioning process via the limiting of the public's access to educational resources.

Btw, the first branch was in Wilder Park in Sugar Hill. It opened a couple of years before Willowbranch.





http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2011-oct-lost-jacksonville-wilder-park

Unfortunately, we didn't value that library or park either and took them both out to create I-95 through the Northside.  Drive down Davis Street today and I think we can all agree, replacing that community's version of Willowbranch with an expressway in the name of progress didn't work out too well for them.  Why recreate the same and expect different results for the community's losing their access?
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

JHAT76

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Re: Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2013, 10:38:47 AM »
^I was just about to say that.  Libraries are more than just books.

At main it is more than books.  Its also the place where a good number of the computers are used to look at porn and for the homeless to sleep.

OK that was sarcastic, but it is at times discouraging to see that giant building with so much square footage being used for a limited supply of books.

If they are to stay open how about more use of computers and funds for actual learning.  Not just a place to play online games. 

Tacachale

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Re: Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2013, 10:42:14 AM »
I think you only need to look at Duval County's educational outcomes to see the need for libraries and the amenities they offer. Do we really want that to get worse? I've said it before, but the urban core is really getting nailed here, with three of the six threatened libraries in the old city and the main library getting its hours slashed. It's sad that we've gone from expanding the system and gaining national notice, to shuttering six branches to make a budget in less than ten years.

I'm not a huge fan of special taxing districts, but considering the beating our libraries have taken since then, it's time to think outside the box.
Do you believe that when the blue jay or another bird sings and the body is trembling, that is a signal that people are coming or something important is about to happen?

Tacachale

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Re: Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2013, 10:47:55 AM »
^I was just about to say that.  Libraries are more than just books.

At main it is more than books.  Its also the place where a good number of the computers are used to look at porn and for the homeless to sleep.

OK that was sarcastic, but it is at times discouraging to see that giant building with so much square footage being used for a limited supply of books.

If they are to stay open how about more use of computers and funds for actual learning.  Not just a place to play online games.

For one thing, that's nonsense. Computers, e books and a place to use them are important parts of the modern library, whether you like the people using them or not. For another, another part of the series of budget cuts has been reducing the collection and the staff to keep it shelved. It isn't all the fault of computers.
Do you believe that when the blue jay or another bird sings and the body is trembling, that is a signal that people are coming or something important is about to happen?

thelakelander

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Re: Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2013, 11:06:59 AM »
It would be good for some of our officials to take a trip to a city to study bad practices instead of best practices.  Nothing is new under the sun and it seems we are approaching many of these issues in a similar manner that other urban areas did 30-40 years ago.  There are lessons we can learn if we open our eyes.

You want to see what urban core neighborhoods look like after their amenities like neighborhood schools and branch libraries are closed?  Check out some of the core areas in cities like Detroit, Cincinnati, and Youngstown.  It's not a pretty sight.

West End - Cincinnati







Eastside - Detroit









I know we're in the Sunbelt but don't think for a minute that what has become Detroit's Eastside, can't happen locally. I'm pretty sure, in 1960, people in that community never imagined the 50 year free fall that's occurred since then.

Furthermore, the idea of closing libraries and schools is counterproductive to national trends where people are starting to select places to live and work based on that community's quality-of-life.  Locally, what really seems to be ignored is the impact of closing facilities, like this, in walkable neighborhoods where they are some of the few remaining public amenities left.  By not having the conversation on what role tunnel minded decision making plays in our overall urban and long term economic climate, we're literally putting the last nails in the coffins of several of our already economically distressed areas and killing our potential to economically compete in the 21st century economy.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

JHAT76

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Re: Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2013, 11:34:50 AM »
^I was just about to say that.  Libraries are more than just books.

At main it is more than books.  Its also the place where a good number of the computers are used to look at porn and for the homeless to sleep.

OK that was sarcastic, but it is at times discouraging to see that giant building with so much square footage being used for a limited supply of books.

If they are to stay open how about more use of computers and funds for actual learning.  Not just a place to play online games.

For one thing, that's nonsense. Computers, e books and a place to use them are important parts of the modern library, whether you like the people using them or not. For another, another part of the series of budget cuts has been reducing the collection and the staff to keep it shelved. It isn't all the fault of computers.

I don't think I stated that well.  I am for more computers.  What I think is silly is the fact that a giant main library was built.  Capable of holding rows and rows of books in an age when more people are moving away from books.  A huge building eating into the library budget with the cost of operations. 

Also what irks me a bit is the call that libraries (currently) are all used for education and how people will lose the opportunity to learn when, as I stated previously, much of the usage is Facebook, online games, etc.

I would be all for directing more funds into actual educational programs, computer literacy classes, and even more books.

thelakelander

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Re: Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2013, 12:01:18 PM »
Quote
the smart people should be looking at how best to use this giant infrastructure investment.

Libraries arent just books.  They are also real estate, buildings, meeting rooms, cultural centers and places for ongoing education, when the are working.

They are also the place where new ideas are formed and people change their lives as a result when they are at their best.  That is certainly why Carnegie funded so many of them.

Great points!
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

thelakelander

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Re: Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2013, 12:29:16 PM »
Great suggestions.  While not libraries, I've always wondered why the school system won't pair up with JTA for transportation or with parks & recreation for parks/maintaining grounds.  I imagine we'd eliminate a ton of duplication and while offering residents a higher quality of life if with coordinated our assets.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

ronchamblin

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Re: Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2013, 12:34:29 PM »
Its a weird time.  The way we deal with libraries is shitty.  But libraries are also evolving and instead of looking at how to cut back money on things that our current political leadership obviously has no use for (like books with facts or useful ideas) the smart people should be looking at how best to use this giant infrastructure investment.

Libraries arent just books.  They are also real estate, buildings, meeting rooms, cultural centers and places for ongoing education, when the are working.

They are also the place where new ideas are formed and people change their lives as a result when they are at their best.  That is certainly why Carnegie funded so many of them.

And that is why we fund them now.

I think people tend to think in terms of a single issue at a time when it comes to public affairs, and there is this sense amongst many people that online books and resources are making books obsolete.  And maybe there is some logic to that.  But libraries existed before modern books existed, so the idea that information is changing format isnt really the most compelling argument that libraries are facing obsolescence.

Traditionally the Library was at the center of a great city and people would travel for many miles in order to use its resources.    The branch concept was partially a way of dealing with cars as well as convenience.  Imagine trying to figure out the parking nightmare if all the libraries were combined into the single building downtown and everyone had to use it instead.

But the branches became like embassies of the High Culture, embedded into every one of the neighborhoods, and over the past 80 years or so, they have made the neighborhoods walkable, and created a buzz of activity around a building whose sole purpose is to serve as a center of civilization.

So perhaps its time to have a couple of conversations in our community.  First of all, the investment of generations of our city should not be able to be so lightly tossed aside by the vagaries of municipal politics.  A body of half literate (one of them is functionally illiterate) city council types should not be able to cripple this investment at a penstroke.

So I support, in a limited kind of way, the idea of an independent taxing function to support the libraries.

But I also think that it is time for the libraries to redefine how they accomplish their great mission in the context of a changing society.

They did it 80 years ago with the advent of branch libraries, and the changes in our daily lives are every bit as profound as the ones brought about by federally fueled demassification and sprawl and the resulting car dependent society.

But frankly, what is happening every day at Bold Bean Cafe should be happening every day at every library.  We have become a nation of autodidacts and the proper social center for that change is the very libraries and branches that we are hastening to close.

People should be using their social networks and reaching out and connecting from them.  They should be using Facebook.  they should be playing games, they should be learning and going to classes and pursuing whatever frivolous line of education and information that they care to pursue.

Libraries are not offices.  They are the sanctuary of a seeking mind.  The books are simply the tools made available to them, and that format is changing.  But the mission of the library was with us before we invented paper.

Well put Stephen.  I love, among other things, your ability to gather and summarize.

If we were to list all of the social and learning entities in a community, the library would stand out as something to be salvaged in spite of the seeming changes in books and the Internet.  The library "is" much more than books, or places to get online. 

It has served, and should continue to serve as a place for meetings, to satisfy curiosity, but also as an environment of learning, and just one more valuable place which always serves to provide a better road to heighten civilization in general.  Yes, just as in all cities, we need heightened civilization in our city.  In fact, we need an enlightenment.   

Although there is the point of there being almost unending options in the home for solitary entertainment, learning, media access, and communication to others, the library is one of the few places where one can socialize and engage in ideas face to face outside of a lounge or a church. 

So ......... onward with the push to keep as many branches a possible.  Whereas I was initially focusing on the "demand" for the branches in each area of the county, perhaps the focus should be on maintaining the branches, thereby encouraging demand by maintaining the branches. 

I'm not sure of the validity of comparing the expense for the stadium TV, lights, pool, etc .. to the expenses to maintain and improve the branch libraries, but perhaps the comparison could be in the conversation.  For example, wasn't the agreement about the $30 million or so "city investment" made sort of behind closed doors.  I don't remember the decision about the city investment being out in the open.  And remember all that odd wording about the source of the city money which is destined for the stadium TV etc.?  Of course, I miss lots of things. 

In other words, couldn't these funds (the 30 mill) set for the "field-long lights and TV" etc have been used for the library branches?  In my opinion -- and this is simply because I'm not one to be impressed by "Monster Trucks" and other technologies which seem to awe those who are less technically schooled -- the addition to the stadium of these items seems somewhat geared to the same group of people who are awed by the "monster trucks". 

Might I suggest that one objective in our city is to decrease the segment in our population who are impressed by ... forgive me please ..... bimbo minded stuff like large lights and TV screens and "monster trucks".  I realize that the "monster truck" events are for kids, but I use it simply to make a point... which I suspect I've failed to make.  Are we somehow continuing, perhaps unconsciously, a "dumbing down" program by adding impressive huge TV screens and such?  Isn't the essence of sports ... that of winning the game?  I for one would be much more impressed with the stadium and the Jaguars if they were to totally win every several years.     

In any case, it just might be that our use of $30 million for bimbo minded stuff such a big blinking lights, redneck stuff, (forgive me again please), and withholding its use for maintaining and enhancing facilities which could only improve all aspects of the lives who are able to use the facilities ....and might just increase the population of the "average or below average in education, and just might nudge our city further back toward the Middle Ages.. that is, as compared to other culturally vibrant cities. 

If I offended anyone by using simple and perhaps inappropriate words... I'm sorry.  I am trying to make sense, while using my rather limited mental tool kit. 
« Last Edit: July 04, 2013, 05:58:58 PM by ronchamblin »

Dog Walker

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Re: Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2013, 02:40:47 PM »
Stephen, you said it exactly right with "centers of civilization" to describe branch libraries.  They are accessible, open to all, free to all and their purpose is to educate and inform.  There are not many other places that you could describe that way.
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fsquid

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Re: Jacksonville's libraries should not be closed!
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2013, 05:09:28 PM »
srill think this is just a scare tactic.