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Author Topic: What about libraries?  (Read 6212 times)

Kat

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What about libraries?
« on: November 28, 2003, 11:29:21 am »

I am in graduate school to become a children's librarian, a job usually supported by tax funds. Will librarians be part of the FSP future? And if so, how will they be supported as libraries have traditionally been free to all.
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atr

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Re: What about libraries?
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2003, 12:11:11 pm »

I am in graduate school to become a children's librarian, a job usually supported by tax funds. Will librarians be part of the FSP future?

It's important to note that there is no specific FSP agenda. Having said that, I don't think publicly finded libraries are consistent with the FSP Statement of Intent: "Once there, I will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of civil government is the protection of life, liberty, and property."

Of course, there are already lots of libraries and other research facilities that do not depend on public funding--private college and university libraries, Google Answers, Questia.com, corporate libraries, etc.

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And if so, how will they be supported as libraries have traditionally been free to all.

It's important to remember that libraries and other public things (like roads) are far from free, although people tend to think of them that way because they pay for them on April 15 instead of every time they use them.

In a free society, people are free to support only the services that they want to support. Libraries could be funded by fees (like renting a video), membership subscriptions (like at Costco), donations, a combination of those, or some other way. The idea is that payments should be voluntary, as opposed to mandatory like the tax system right now. Currently, you can go to jail if you decide you don't want to pay for libraries, and that doesn't seem quite right to me.


Edited to add: Please pardon my manners. Welcome to the FSP message board, and thanks for your question!  :)
« Last Edit: November 28, 2003, 12:12:44 pm by atr »
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Jhogun

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Re:What about libraries?
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2003, 12:12:47 pm »

Libraries are nice, but they don't have anything to do with the protection of life and property, so the free state government won't be running them (eventually, at least).  Any libraries would be privately owned and operated.  Most likely there would be some kind of fee to use them. Which isn't so bad, since we pay fees to use them now, only they are called taxes and everyone pays the fee, even those who don't use the library (hardly fair).

If there is a great enough demand for libraries, some enterprising individual or company hoping to make some money will open one.  If there is not a great enough demand, then is it right to force everyone to pay for something only a few people want?
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Kat

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Re:What about libraries?
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2003, 02:14:13 pm »

I understand all that you've written. What about the educated society that is needed for informed decisions to be made? What about having information available for everyone? What about children having access to a library even if their parents can't/won't pay for it? Will we have private libraries that espouse only the point of view of the supporters? Is that of any benefit? I'm not trying to raise any hackles, I'm just curious what the thoughts are on these questions. I know that bias and censorship are part of being human and libraries certainly are not exempt from this problem, but at least there is an effort toward that goal.

sorry about the "free" thing. I know of course that a fee is paid and by people that don't use the library. Is a library supported by charity the way to go?
« Last Edit: November 28, 2003, 02:17:39 pm by Kat »
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Jhogun

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Re:What about libraries?
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2003, 06:42:44 pm »

I understand all that you've written. What about the educated society that is needed for informed decisions to be made?


People have lots of needs. Food, clothing, medical care, shelter, love and understanding...should government provide all of these?  Where do we draw the line?

Not to disparage your opinions, but they are just that-opinions.  What you think society needs may not be what I think.  You are free to support causes that you think are important, but you have no right to decide how I should spend my money (I happen to feel the same way as you about reading, but it's not right in a free country for me to make that decision for others)

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What about having information available for everyone? What about children having access to a library even if their parents can't/won't pay for it?

Having access to books is wonderful, but no one has an inherent right to have that access (or anything else) provided to them at someone else's expense.  The fact that someone wants or needs something does not entail an obligation on my part to provide it.

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Will we have private libraries that espouse only the point of view of the supporters? Is that of any benefit?

Government libraries already censor what books and media they carry.  The only difference is that private libraries wouldn't be using public money to do it.  And any library that only carried material that was unpopular with most people wouldn't have too many patrons and probably wouldn't be around very long.  

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I'm not trying to raise any hackles, I'm just curious what the thoughts are on these questions. I know that bias and censorship are part of being human and libraries certainly are not exempt from this problem, but at least there is an effort toward that goal.

No offense taken. These are all valid questions, and encouraging people to read and educate themselves is a worthy goal.  But the initiation of force (i.e. government) to accomplish that or any other goal should not be an acceptable solution in a free society.  Every time we use the government to provide a good or service, someone somewhere has lost some of their freedom.

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sorry about the "free" thing. I know of course that a fee is paid and by people that don't use the library. Is a library supported by charity the way to go?

That is one alternative.  The good thing about freedom and a free market is that you and I don't have to have all the answers, just the confidence that if there is a demand someone will come up with a way to provide it if there's something to be gained by it (even if that something is just a warm feeling from doing something good for others).  
« Last Edit: November 28, 2003, 06:46:58 pm by Jhogun »
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Kyle

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Re:What about libraries?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2003, 07:09:07 pm »

Kat,
I would gladly give a decent portion of my income for the purpose of running an independent library which has media from all different viewpoints.  In fact, I would want it to be even better than other libraries.  I love my local library, but sometimes I wish there were more events.  I suspect that there are others like me who will gladly give their money voluntarily to help start a free library.

Furthermore, there are other ways to disseminate information.  If I move to New Hampshire, I will do what I have done here in Houston, which is working to get as many free wireless internet access nodes running as possible.  Houston is covered with coffeeshops, restaurants and other establishments that I and others have convinced to put in a free wireless network.  They buy the router and the internet access and I help them install it.  Its good for me because I get to see people all over with free access.  Its good for the businesses because they get many more laptop-toting customers at a cost of only 40ish a month for the internet access.
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Kat

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Re:What about libraries?
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2003, 09:02:30 pm »

Thanks to all for the responses. New Hampshire sounds intriguing, but probably no place for me  :(  as a children's librarian. Good luck to you on your project!
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Blefuscu

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Re:What about libraries?
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2003, 11:43:25 pm »

Kat, do you believe that libraries cannot exist without government funding, or that you would not find employment in New Hampshire as a children's librarian without a government funded position?  

People already voluntarily give to all kinds of organizations that promote their goals.   Libraries would be an easy sell, I'm pretty sure.  Especially when government censorship is removed from the equation.  I am certain that there are a lot of people who think that libraries are a good thing, and would voluntarily support the operation of community libraries so that they could continue to serve community members much as they do today.  

Of course non-government funded libraries would likely reflect the ideals and goals of their private benefactors and users.  Some might promote narrow or specialized points of view, and others will doubtless promote broad educational and recreational values that disfavor censorship of any kind.  In fact, I suspect the latter type are more likely than the former.  Think about bookstores, as a parallel example.  The number of bookstores that are willing to carry any book that someone will buy is far greater than the number of bookstores that voluntarily limit themselves to a specialized category, such as Christian books.  

I think libraries are a good thing for a community, and I'd happily support one in my community that espoused free access to all ideas and refrained from censorship.  Few people can afford to buy their own personal copy of every book they might want to read.  I'd certainly want my community library to have a well-stocked children's section, a broad range of fiction and non fiction for all ages, reference materials, access to other educational and news media, internet access, and so forth.  And also to sponsor community events for all patrons to encourage greater education and enlightenment.  In short, to provide all the services and to do all the kinds of things that libraries do today.  

I'm sure there'll continue to be plenty of opportunities for librarians in New Hampshire.   Just because government doesn't pay for your position doesn't mean you won't find employment.  
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Kyle

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Re:What about libraries?
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2003, 01:18:11 am »

See Kat, that's two already who are interested in funding libraries that cater to all.  It could definitely work!
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Kelton Baker

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Re:What about libraries?
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2003, 04:29:10 am »

Recently, I've noticed a new type of popular library emerging in the last few years:  the bookstore.

Take a tour through any major bookstore like a Border's and notice that there are seats to sit and enjoy a book along with comfortable furnishings and wide aisles.  They seem to encourage browsing and lingering, unlike the narrow, crowded bookstore that used to be the norm.  A cafe and eatery, comfortable bathrooms, conference areas,  children's areas with activities, Internet access, speaking engagements, even concerts; these are all things I have seen take place at these lively new capitalist libraries.

Also remember that many of the libraries throughout this nation were donated by philanthropists, not built by taxpayers.  How many libraries bear the Carnegie name, or the name of other great industrialists?  Is there a single library at any major state-owned university that was actually built by taxpayer money?  Most all of them have donors that they are named after.  I am aware of many towns throughout the West that had libraries long before they had police, fire departments, garbage service, running water, sewer, and so forth.  

Here nearby, in Clovis, Calif., a rich group of people got together and decided to donate a nice new library to the municipality.  The principal donor had a little girl that was learning to read and she wanted the library to get underway just as soon as possible.  Their mistake was in donating it to the local government because that little girl is now heading to college and the library they tried to donate to the city went through years of legal battles and public strife before becoming a library.  Why?  Because the new library was a fancy one that exceeded all others in design and function and that would not be fair to have a library for the rich in the rich part of town while the rest of the city had shoddy and old libraries.  So, some greedy socialist do-gooders tried to limit and change this donation so that it would benefit the poor areas too, (since we must have a level playing field, they argued).  The end result was years of frustration and a good part of a generation could not enjoy any library at all while the socialists were appeased.  The problem is that there was no problem, this new library actually saves money since many of the other facilities are rented, it now means one less expense for the city and county and state in having a "free library"; the problem the do-gooder socialists had was not with the results but with the perceptions of favoring the wealthy part of town.

I think this is all lends an argument in support of having non-tax funded libraries.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2003, 04:30:38 am by Kelton Baker »
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lloydbob1

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Re:What about libraries?
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2003, 09:39:39 am »

Recently, I've noticed a new type of popular library emerging in the last few years:  the bookstore.

Take a tour through any major bookstore like a Border's and notice that there are seats to sit and enjoy a book along with comfortable furnishings and wide aisles.  They seem to encourage browsing and lingering, unlike the narrow, crowded bookstore that used to be the norm.  A cafe and eatery, comfortable bathrooms, conference areas,  children's areas with activities, Internet access, speaking engagements, even concerts; these are all things I have seen take place at these lively new capitalist libraries.


A fews years ago, about the time I was getting used to the chairs and tables at my neighborhood Barnes and Noble, I was in the checkout line when  a woman  walked up to the counter with a book which she was bookmarking with her finger. She asked the person behind the counter.

"Do you Have a copier that I can use?"
« Last Edit: November 29, 2003, 09:41:28 am by Lloyd Danforth (lloydbob1) »
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Daniel McGuire

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Re:What about libraries?
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2003, 10:07:53 am »

An excellent article on the history of private and public libraries can be found here: http://www.fee.org/vnews.php?nid=349  

Libraries are just another example of government moving in on and destroying a successful private sector activity.
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Kat

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Re:What about libraries?
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2003, 02:15:59 pm »

Thanks again for all the responses.

How many of you would want a job where your income depended solely on the generosity of others? Would that income be something you could count on? I really do want the library to work within your framework of ideals and I, for one am enjoying this discourse. These are things your community MAY need to deal with. I read in another post in another forum on this site where someone was asking how often the roads were plowed in NH. Isn't that a gov't. function? That same person also mentioned visiting the library btw.

Sad about the Clovis library. I live in So. Cal and there is a beautiful new library in Cerritos, but if you don't live there, it will cost you $100 for a library card. Understandable.

No one really addressed my question about a knowledgeable community. Can I assume that in your free state there will be all levels of income, from poor to wealthy? Do you advocate people having the opportunity to better themselves? Maybe they need to create their own opportunities? Will it be possible to do that in your free state. Will knowledge/education be accessible only to those with funds? Probably, if I understand your philosophy right. A person can work very hard and save the money they need for education and visits to the right kind of library/bookstore. I do see your viewpoint (my father has been a libertarian as long as I can remember and I've grown up around them, I'm registered as one myself). Strange that I've chosen the career I have.

Please give me more ideas of how this would really work in your free state, remember, I'm a children's librarian, might be an easier or harder sell depending on how you look at it.


Bookstores definitely have great ideas about creating comfortable atmospheres and planning events. Can they take the place of libraries? (not a facetious question)

Just a note about Carnegie libraries. Only the funds for the buildings were donated, staff and books and everything else had to come from the community. Nothing wrong with that, just wanted to make it clear.
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Dawn

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Re:What about libraries?
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2003, 05:05:26 pm »

What about the educated society that is needed for informed decisions to be made? What about having information available for everyone? What about children having access to a library even if their parents can't/won't pay for it? Will we have private libraries that espouse only the point of view of the supporters? Is that of any benefit?
I think it is the responsibility of the individual to better themselves through education. But, I also think that the same people who are willing to directly pay for library services will also be willing to donate to help someone else (who can't afford it) gain access to the information as well. The major difference here is coercion. Tax-funded libraries are paid for by every tax payer, whether or not they use it. Private libraries could function in just about the same fashion as our current public libraries, just with the funding coming from a different source.

Every private enterprise is subject to being paid by what you could call "donations". If the library or store or whatever, is providing a good or service that is desired by the consumer, then they will be willing to pay a fair price for it. If the good/service is useless or overpriced, it will have to adjust to survive.

I suppose a private library could include or exclude whatever type of information or services it decides to. But if it makes the wrong choice, not enough people will be willing to pay for it and the library (or any other business for that matter) will have to adjust or go out of business.

So, as a children's librarian, I encourage you to make a plan for the best children't library you can possibly come up with and get busy making it a reality!
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LeopardPM

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Re:What about libraries?
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2003, 06:11:39 pm »

Kat,
in regard to two of your questions...

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What about the educated society that is needed for informed decisions to be made? What about having information available for everyone? What about children having access to a library even if their parents can't/won't pay for it? Will we have private libraries that espouse only the point of view of the supporters? Is that of any benefit?

Note: I am taking this whole paragraph as one general question
In general, those of libertarian viewpoint (not that I can speak for anyone but myself) consider the whole idea of 'society' as fictional - it is a collection of individuals, each with their own set of values/morals/needs/wants/desires.  Sometimes a particular idea gains popularity and a 'majority' of folks adopt that idea into their belief system, BUT, note that in and of itself, that does not make it 'correct' or 'good' or even reflective of reality in any way.  So to force the majority viewpoint on others ('for their own good' of course) is patently wrong.  Along this line is the common phrase used 'for the good of society' which states that one view, if forceably adopted by all folks, would improve everyones' life in some way.  It is an example of hubris and vanity to suppose to dictate to others how to live their lives.

Now, you ask, so how would it work?  would everyone revert back to being ignorant and 'stone-age'?  No, it is actually an economic question which resolves itself:  it is human nature to try to improve one's lot in life, trade is a valuable tool in this endeavor.  the free market will value educated folks more so than uneducated ones and this information will be plain for all to see.  It will be up to individuals as to how to educate themselves and their children and they will do so, if they desire to, to the best of their abilities.  if they do not desire to, then they will have more limited choices in producing wealth and the benefits of wealth.

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How many of you would want a job where your income depended solely on the generosity of others? Would that income be something you could count on?
I believe you are looking at your situation incorrectly, and in so doing, pointing out a distinct difference in thinking.  You say 'dependant solely on the generosity of others'... what would you think of another person (say, a McDonalds worker) who said this, that they were dependant on their boss's generosity?  Doesn't that make an underlying assumption that YOU and the WORK you are doing, whatever it is, is worthless?  Do you consider your work worthless?  Do others?  I think we both agree that you perform a needed and valuable service in educating children.  Parents are the ones who are MOST interested in making sure their children will be able to survive in the big, bad world out there and will provide, to te best of their ability, all the tools to enhance their childs' future.

Now, look at another aspect of a Free State that happens to open up an interesting situation for Children Librarians:  No more public Schools.  Lots of home schooled children, lots of private schools... they ALL have a great need to access to books but may not have the funds to build their own libraries.  their solution is to have a joint-cooperative library which they share the costs of books/facilities... and now we have an opportunity for a business to start up: The Incredible Kat Children's Community Library.  You, or some enterprising entrepenuer who starts the business, sells access to all the folks who need access to books and now you have your job back - but better.  You are not part of a system that through threat of force takes money away from unwilling contributors.  Now instead of being seen as someone 'living off the generosity of society' you are someone who provides a needed and desired service and any improvements to that service that you incorporate will make you even more valuable to those that need you - hence, more money.  you will not be stuck with whatever librarians get paid these days, but your income will be reflective of how good of a job you do in providing a service... much better in my eyes...

sorry, I go on and on... and could continue but for the tiredness in my fingers...

michael
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