Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Information must be free


A patron who has never been to this library came to me and said "I have never seen a library so big and so clean before!"

"That's just an illusion because of our tall white walls." I said. "I am intimately acquainted with this library and it is filthy." Then I gave her advice on her taxes.

My point here is that I am not in the business of lying to the public. I work for them. I'm comfortable working for them because they almost never think I work for them. A boss or two around here occasionally thinks I work for them. While they may be, in some wretched, twisted sense, right, it is my intention that they be painfully burned every time they try and touch that.

But we were talking about telling the truth. Reports reached me from a colleague recently that all the library fine money we collect goes straight to the coffers of the County. This is contrary to all that has been true in the past. In the past all fine money collected was specifically earmarked for our materials collection. At press time it remains unclear whether the information my colleague received, despite it being from a lofty source, was entirely accurate. But my colleague was at pains to make it clear they would never tell a patron that the fines simply go to the county. They would not disabuse the library patrons of the notion that their fines directly benefit the library.

I feel just the opposite. For all these years, patrons, chagrined, have paid me their fines, small and large, and said "At least it goes to a good cause." And I have said "It does. It goes to our collection. We use it exclusively to buy new materials." If this is not true they should know, and so should I. And if this is so, and I tell them, and they write angry letters to their County Commissioner I would only count myself lucky.

I work for a library. We provide information here. I am not in public relations. Rather, I am in a Democracy. And while that Democracy only hangs from the edge of a cliff by its fingernails, it manages to at least do that. And the way that it has done it, so far, is by reading about how to do it at the library. 

Which is why it's not that terrible to have to come to work here every day.


  1. 'Information wants to be free' is the name of my friend's blog :-)

    1. Wait, you know Meredith Farkas!? The Meredith Farkas, who wrote “Social Software in Libraries: Building Collaboration, Communication and Community Online”?

      I'm just funning. It looks like a very nice blog. I'll read all of her posts if she reads all of mine :-)


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