Friday, April 5, 2013

Libraries: Not really ‘free’

Check-out receipt from "Your Local Library" totaling $0 cost
It is at best a mistake and at worse self-destructive
to under-represent a community’s investment in libraries
according to D.J. Hoek. Image credit: Idyllwild Library
In the March/April 2013 issue of American Libraries, D.J. Hoek offers timely commentary about an image that showed up in my Facebook timeline: a library checkout receipt detailing “free” items -- DVDs, books, an eBook and CDs.

Just how timely? The image appeared within days of my reading Hoek’s essay, thanks to social sharing by an account I follow on Facebook.

Hoek makes an important argument, that libraries are not really “free” -- rather, communities derive tremendous returns upon their great investment.

“ [I]t is at best a mistake and at worst self-destructive to under-represent the considerable ongoing investment that members of a community make to have library collections, technology, personnel, and facilities available to them.” A far better take-home message, according to Hoek, is that libraries are worth “every cent” of their ongoing cost.

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