“De-Fund Public Libraries?” by Dr. James R. Wining

The COV-19 Quarantine caused us to reconsider the relevance or need of several pieces in our environment which we now are not using or may not need. Business uses such as dry cleaners, restaurants, sporting events and movies moved from a necessity to “non-existence,” in our lifestyle. This might be short term in duration or permanent. One of these places or businesses that is under attack is “Public Library System.”

There are 116,164 public libraries in the USA. There are over 166,164 librarians with a median salary of $61,530. The librarian’s salary is nearly twice the average median income in the USA of $31,133. The employees, buildings, equipment, supplies, books and other leased equipment are funded by local and state taxes. With the COV-19 Pandemic restrictions for over one year the tax paying public was without physical access to the library buildings, books, rental items such as videos and current reading information such as magazines and newspapers.

You might ask yourself what did you discover about your use of the library? Did you give up on reading? Did you lose knowledge of current events? Did you listen to books or videos in your home or car? What actually changed because the public library was closed?

It appears reading became online just as education became online. Current events became the touch of your phone or computer? Moreover, books or videos were inexpensively accessed on our computers, phones, notebooks or smart TV’s. While it was an adjustment it was done and given all the other adjustments during the COV-19 Pandemic it is was relatively easy and painless!

So are we going to go back to libraries? Should the millions of dollars expended on their perpetuation be reallocated to providing every individual or family group a computer? Would this be an easier way to educate, inform and entertain people in the 21st Century? Sadly, public service is all about providing the best means of support for a public need. Is it the library or a home computer? Only time will tell this story.