Should libraries charge?

February 4, 2009
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Should libraries be charging for the hottest materials?

The Dallas Public Library thinks so. It's slapped a $5 surcharge on a short list of bestsellers and new-release DVDs. You can find more details here.

A slippery slope or a smart move?

And, FYI, the same story reports that the American Library Association has noted a ten percent uptick from 2001-2008 in both the number of visits to libraries and the number of items checked out.

Your thoughts?
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  • Are people taking books out of the library instead of purchasing them? I haven't seen any reports that book sellers/publishers are facing declines, but it makes sense that people would go the cheap route. Libraries exist on government financing, so I am opposed to them creating express lines for those willing to pay. That only restricts availability to every other tax payer.
  • Those willing to wait to check out a new release at the library often wait through 100-200 other patrons. That's just the price for avoiding book store/rental fees. I can't imagine that library copies of popular books or videos are huring the book sellers. Plus, we already pay for the library services through our tax dollars.
  • I understand the libraries need for increased revenue, just like everyone else, but this is not the way to do it. I am an avid supporter and user of IMCPL and would not stop using it but would be very disappointed if they move in this direction.
    Remember when the Children's Museum used to be FREE? I held a family membership to the museum for years thinking that helped it remain free and accessible to everyone. When they started charging admission I canceled my membership.
    Being a tax supported institution, the library absolutely should not charge for services.
  • Slippery slope. The free public library system in the United States is the underpinning of our system of government. Anyone can use a public library. Charging a fee to get special treatment shows what I have sometimes suspected, however: that public libraries often spend their budgets on the middle and upper class in their communities.
  • The publishing industry is indeed experiencing sales contraction, just like anyone else. However, I believe the contraction is on the consumer side rather than on the library/trade side. I don't know enough about the publishing business to say for sure, though. I've read that they are cutting back on the number of speculative books they buy and are being very careful about sponsoring splashy book release parties.

    From my personal perspective, I know that I do not buy nearly as many books as I used to a year or two ago, and read almost everything through the public library. I have also stopped renting DVDs from Blockbuster, preferring to get them from the library. I need to do this to make my own budget balance.

    Adding a surcharge for the most popular books is not conceptually consistent with the idea of libraries as a free and fair public service to ensure that everyone in this country has a certain base level access to education resources. Dare I say that it is anti-American to institute a surcharge on services that are already covered by our tax dollars? (although it certainly seems to be par for America to extend preferential services to those who can pay for them) If IMCPL follows the Dallas model it will affect my library usage but I can't say how much--I'll probably just wait until the books I want to read are off the surcharge list.

    Besides, I think I singlehandedly support my local branch through my overdue library fines...
  • Wow this sure is an interesting subject. I've never heard of the libraries charging for renting out movies and books. How'd you find out about this? I always find the topics that you choose so interesting! I absolutely love your writing and the Indianapolis entertainment has always needed a guy like you. We can always rely on your critique.

    - Ter
  • Discusting...................will there be anything left that is not available unless you have the resources???? We have an education crisis and now we want people to pay for one of the things we need to encourage people to do.....READ??? There may be other business options for a library struggling but to visit this on the public who are already deep in their pockets to support it (whether they use it or not) seems ill-advised. It's a trend that should not find legs.
  • We already pay for library resources. Taxes.

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  1. I think the poster was being sarcastic and only posting or making fun of what is usually posted on here about anything being built in BR or d'town for that matter.

  2. Great news IRL fans: TURBO the IMS sanctioned movie about slugs running the Indy 500 has caught the Securities and Exchange Commission because Dreamworks had to take a $132MILLION write down...because the movie was such a flop. See, the Indy/IMS magic soiled another pair of drawers. Bwahahahahahaha! How's CARTOWN doing? HAHAHAHA...Indy is for losers.

  3. So disappointed in WIBC. This is the last straw to lose a good local morning program. I used to be able to rely on WIBC to give me good local information, news, weather and traffic on my 45 minute commute.Two incidents when I needed local, accurate information regarding severe weather were the first signs I could not now rely on WIBC. I work weekend 12 hour nights for a downtown hospital. This past winter when we had the worst snowfall in my 50 years of life, I came home on a Sunday morning, went to sleep (because I was to go back in Sunday night for another 12 hour shift), and woke up around 1 p.m. to a house with no electricity. I keep an old battery powered radio around and turned on WIBC to see what was going on with the winter storm and the roads and the power outage. Sigh. Only policital stuff. Not even a break in to update on the winter storm warning. The second weather incident occurred when I was driving home during a severe thunderstorm a few months ago. I had already gotten a call from my husband that a tornado warning was just southwest of where I had been. I turned to WIBC to find out what direction the storm was headed so I could figure out a route home, only to find Rush on the air, and again, no breaking away from this stupidity to give me information. Thank God for my phone, which gave me the warning that I was driving in an area where a tornado was seen. Thanks for nothing WIBC. Good luck to you, Steve! We need more of you and not the politics of hatred that WIBC wants to shove at us. Good thing I have Satellite radio.

  4. I read the retail roundup article and tried Burritos and Beers tonight. I'm glad I did, for the food was great. Fresh authentic Mexican food. Great seasoning on the carne asada. A must try!!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

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