Letters to the Editor

Online vs. library

Boy, where have I been? According to Brian Laine (Oct. 18, letters to the editor) I no longer need the Arlington Public Library because I can get it all from my little old home computer. Wow. Lets see he must mean that I can get those 30 to 40 books I check out each month online for free? And I can get all those wonderful magazines I borrow for free online? And my husband can get all those blues, jazz, and Bob Dylan CDs online for free? And all those woodworking books he checks out? For free online? How about all that local family history research I do for others? Its online for free, too? And those DVDs I borrow for free? What a dummy Ive been.
And what about all those wonderful childrens programs presented weekly at the Arlington Library? Can these children, including my grandson, learn to participate and socialize online, too? And how about those adult reading groups that meet at the library? And those guest speakers who cover topics like estate planning and wills, or fighting the local meth problem or up-to-date Medicare changes? Is it all local and personalized online for free, too? And how about those local, nationally known authors and artists who read their poetry or demonstrate their water coloring techniques? I can get all that online for free, too? Not to mention those poetry reading and music in the stacks evenings, online for free, too?
Anyone who thinks that he can get it all online for free is simply missing out on one of the great American traditions: Your local public library. It is impossible for me to believe that a single human being looks at life so narrowly as to publicly admit that he can do it all online and that he has no need for his public library, ever. What about his children? There is no way they can finish their education properly without using the library. My daughter is a teacher and she encourages her students to regularly use their local library.
And Mr. Laines math thats something else, too. Maybe thats what they call fuzzy math. I think he forgot to figure in a lot of things that are included in the overall price, like the cost of additional library furniture, book shelves, carpeting and furnishing the librarians work rooms.
I am in the library at least several times a week. It is woefully lacking in space. The current building is overflowing with people almost any time of the day or evening. This building, which is and will continue to be owned by the city, will become public meeting rooms. There are no public meeting rooms in this city other than to rent space in a local church or to use the Boys and Girls Club at the airport. Pretty pathetic for an area of more than 28,000 people.
My fondest memory as a child was going to the library on Saturday mornings with my own library card clutched in my hand. I can tell you that I borrowed every Nancy Drew book that was ever published. Not to mention art, history, sewing and gardening books. Just last week I took my six-year-old grandson to the Arlington Library and helped him get his own library card. The place was packed with students, parents, the retired and even young mothers with their children waiting to check out books. Others were finishing their homework, reading newspapers and magazines, looking for local job information and chuckling over the current art display (hand-painted pumpkins).
I feel sorry for anyone who really believes that every ounce of new knowledge can come from the Internet while totally ignoring our free local public library. The time has come for a new library. It is that simple.
Michele Heiderer

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