Monday, May 4, 2009

Library: Facts or Attacks?

"I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power."
--Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis, 1820. ME 15:278

During the month of March I was 'out of pocket' and involved in some rather serious business.
That explains my failure to read that month's issue of Whatcom Watch, which contained an article that pretended to be about our public Library, entitled 'Another Fine Mess' by Fred Volz.
Not that this article was particularly worth reading, mind you, because it was filled with the kind of factual error and misinformation that one might ordinarily expect from either an ideologue or someone who is extremely opinionated on a particular issue for whatever reason.

Now, I don't know the author, nor can I recall meeting him at any public or private meeting - which itself, is a reason to question the source or accuracy of some of his suppositions and conclusions.
Suffice to say, this is a good example of the adage; 'don't believe anything you hear, and half of what you read'.
That assumes you know WHICH half to believe!
Kinda reminds of Winston Churchill's remark that 'there are a lot of lies going around, only half of which are true.'

Hard to imagine why folks aren't more careful with what they think, write, read and choose to believe, isn't it?
I don't intend to repeat any substantial part of this article here because that isn't necessary, and those interested can read it online at
Or, just go to past issues, click on March 2009, then click on the article.

Anyway, the main point of this blog is to alert those interested that this month's issue of Whatcom Watch [May, 2009] contains another article on the same subject, this one authored by Pam Kiesner, Bellingham Public Library's Library Director.
Entitled 'Another Perspective on the Bellingham Public Library', this article is a worthwhile read, partly because it provides factual responses to some pretty egregious errors that were previously published, but also because it gives good background and context to the important issue of providing an adequate, efficient and cost effective Central Library and Branch system.
[Note that this latest article has not yet been posted on the Internet - there is usually about a month's delay - but is available for WW hard copy readers]

I won't elaborate further on this topic now because the two articles cited are self explanatory, and I've already made known my views.
But, it is in everyone's best interests to be factually informed on this issue, which ultimately is a matter for citizens themselves to decide -hopefully after being thoroughly and accurately informed .
'An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.' - Benjamin Franklin

A brief excerpt from this website:

'Most Americans in the 1730s had limited access to books. Books, in early America, were rare and expensive. There were no public libraries. Only the very wealthy and the clergy had access to large numbers of books. Even men of moderate means could not readily afford books. Enter Benjamin Franklin.

On July 1, 1731, Franklin and a group of members from the Junto, a philosophical association, drew up "Articles of Agreement" to form a library. The Junto was interested in a wide range of ideas, from economics to solving social woes to politics to science. But they could not turn to books to increase their knowledge or settle disputes, as between them they owned few tomes. But they recognized that via the Junto's combined purchasing power, books could be made available to all members.

So it was that 50 subscribers invested 40 shillings each to start a library. Members also promised to invest 10 shillings more every year to buy additional books and to help maintain the library.
They chose as their motto a Latin phrase which roughly translates as
"To support the common good is divine."


Yes, it does take funding to achieve something of value for the entire community.
What value do you place on an adequate public library?