By John Warner, Chicago Tribune, Apr 30, 2022 at 6:00 am
Thank goodness public libraries already exist, because if they didn’t, there’s no way we’d ever be able to establish similar institutions in today’s dis-United States of America.
There are a number of reasons I’m skeptical. For one, belief in institutions, in general, is at an all-time low ebb. Government, schools, churches — the entities in which people are expected to come together and sacrifice some portion of their individual well-being for an overall increase in the common good — either have significantly less salience in today’s society (churches), or are under direct assault by forces that seem to not just be partisan politically, but actively anti-democracy.
Weakened institutions aside, there also seems to be an overall lack of communal spirit.
Our inability to act collectively to mitigate the worst effects of the pandemic is illustrative here. Inconvenience or discomfort, or worse, someone else getting something one thinks they might not “deserve” would all make libraries a difficult sell.
I can imagine the internet hot take: Why punish people who can afford to buy books by making them free to read for everyone?
A look back at the future of dining sunday-morning November 21, 2021 / 9:41 AM / CBS News
It seemed like magic: A restaurant without waiters.
Instead, walls of shiny glass and chrome doors, which opened to reveal comfort foods to match Mom’s cooking. “Pies, pies, pies. Yes, the pies were fabulous!’ said Broadway legend Chita Rivera. Correspondent Mo Rocca asked, “Had you ever seen anything like this?”
Libraries across the United States are eliminating late fees for overdue books.
In Burbank, California, the Burbank Public Library became fine free on July 1, eliminating fees for overdue books and cancelling historical overdue fees.
Of the switch, the library wrote on its website, “This move is part of our efforts to improve equity of access. While fines for overdue items may seem like a small burden, they can create a major barrier to service for those who are struggling financially. Too many people have made the choice to stop using the Library because of inability to pay or fear of accruing fines.”
The library also stated, “Research has shown that fines are not effective in getting materials returned on time, and libraries that have eliminated fines have found that long overdue items come back and patrons who avoided the library for years start visiting again.” Fines won’t be charged for lost library cards, or holds that aren’t picked up, but will still be charged for lost or damaged checked out items.