Monday, August 13, 2007

Bridges -- Money can solve problems, how does that help libraries?

I've started (again) to catch up on reading blogs through my aggregator.

One of the first I always look at is Free Range Librarian. Karen is a good friend and a great writer. One of her recent posts led me to Garrison Keillor's article "Bridges aren't supposed to fall down." At one point he says, "The way to get money to fix a bridge is for it to collapse and kill people, and so Congress promptly awarded Minnesota $250 million for the fallen I-35W." And he is right.

I guess there are several things that bug me about this: first, a bridge collapsed in Connecticut in 1983, and I have seen very little reference to that. (Here is the Wikipedia article, which is pretty good. Note that one of the links at the end is to the NTSB report on the collapse. Note that it was a full year after the collapse before a report was issued.)

Second, the solution is to throw money at the problem after the fact. Fat lot of good that does for those who died.

The third thing is that libraries are always looking for money. Most libraries are either underfunded or limited in what services can be provided because of funding restrictions. For those working in areas with strict "tax caps" one of the (I believe, unintended) consequences of voter imposed limitations like Proposition 13 (in California) and Proposition 2 1/2 (in Massachusetts) is that library services compete with police, fire, and other social services. Part of the bigger picture is that funding libraries will reduce crime and the need for social services, it will create more jobs and a better economy. We, as librarians, just have not made the case well enough, yet.

My rant for the day is over....who know what is next.

1 comment:

  1. As one of the victims of Prop. 13 (and its offspring), I agree with you that the so-called tax revolt has failed.


    Many of the same people who complained about high property taxes are distressed when police and fire services are cut. (Not too many folk complain when the library meets the budget-cutter. More on this on my blog .