Friday, July 20, 2007
Keep the Durham Co. libraries free
I heard from the Durham BORDC's organizer that using either the auditorium or the upstairs conference room at the Main Library now costs $50 dollars. I also heard that the Parkwood Branch Library will probably charge for the large meeting room (according to one librarian) or possibly both starting in September. It looks like this is a system wide change, but I haven't confirmed that yet.
I think this is a bad idea that conflicts with the traditional concept of a public library that also serves as a community center. I reserve a library meeting room in Durham at least 12 times a year, and it is too costly to pay a fee of $600 dollars a year. This impacts everyone, but especially citizen groups without financial status, the poor, students, and homeless people. Sure there are cheaper or free spaces, but these are mostly private locations with more drawbacks. Church rooms are often very busy, may have a fee, and political meetings might be prohibited. Homes might be too small, lack parking, and are private spaces that people might not want to use for public meetings open to everyone, Southpoint Mall and coffee shops provide meeting spaces, but they are also crowded or busy with through traffic, small, and are more limited than the libraries have been, If this change is to save money, I think it would be more in keeping with the mission of libraries if they saved money instead by not allowing refreshments (the serving of which already has a fee), cutting the lawn less often, etc.
I will provide an update about this when I have more details, but I was told that the Library is taking complaints, so we should send them in (contact information is available at www.durhamcountylibrary.org).
Another longstanding issue, possibly having to do with money, is the way the Library decides which books in its collection to sell.