Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Are Libraries Still “Relevant”?

I’ve written 30 posts tagged with the word “Library”.


Image Courtesy of Holger Dieterich ~

That word can mean many things to different folks…

Does it mean “Research”, “Reading”, “Using a Computer”, “Socializing”, “Having an Adventure”?

And, for You, is a library “Significant”, “Applicable”, “Appropriate”, and “Suitable”?

Perhaps the interview with Sari Feldman, executive director of the Cuyahoga County Public Library and president-elect of the American Library Assocation (ALA), can clarify what libraries are worth…

Just a few of Sari’s comments:

“Libraries’ core values of confidentiality, privacy, and exceptional customer service create an environment of tremendous support for information seekers.”

“I think the next ‘big thing’ for libraries to embrace in support of 21st century information opportunity and lifelong learning is ‘Big Data‘.”

“I also predict that the developed world will be looking to the U.S. when it comes to two key issues that have been a focus in ALA’s advocacy work—policies on net neutrality and federal legislative issues related to privacy and security.”

And, I wonder what you think about this, possibly, surprising statement:

“I believe that we do ourselves a disservice when we allow our communities to view libraries as nostalgic throwbacks—as places that do not or should not change with the times. It’s not always popular to be the one advancing an organization in the direction of a new future when the present still clings to vestiges of the past, but we have to find the strength, look forward, and bring others along.”

And, even though the interview is heavily slanted toward the USA, I’m hoping a few readers from other countries will start a discussion about all this in the Comments…

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6 responses to “Are Libraries Still “Relevant”?

  1. wmbrandoniii September 30, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    They are still very relevant as far as I am concerned; in fact, my Wife and I were married on the steps of the Los Angeles Central Library in downtown LA. It was the site of our first date and many more after! California, in particular, is really breaking ground as far as keeping a robust catalog of digital publications as well. Barring the ability to walk into a library, and/or a desire to read print copies, keeping digital catalogs will help expand readership as well as extend the traditional library’s relevance. LA Central is also an excellent example of a Library that is community oriented: they host panel discussions, presentations, debates, and a wide variety of classes, reading performances, and community outreach.


  2. Salvatore Pope Ritondo September 30, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Bravo! I have been guilty of looking at the nostalgic aspect of libraries but not anymore after this post ‘THUD’
    May I ramble?
    When I was a little guy the library often served to protect me from bullies or causing trouble myself! It was a place where I could go and feel safe.
    As I grew and my needs grew it still fought to protect me. It protects me as a person that wants to pursue educating my mind without interference. This means as Sara Feldman conveyed, Privacy , confidentiality are to be guaranteed to modern library patrons despite this world where information dissemination has become at times dangerous. As libraries change I believe they are doing so in a manner where a person will be able to learn, Free and safe– without prying eyes, or judgment, or advertisers, sales motives big brother, government slants etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Telling Mansion should never have been sold October 1, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Mr. Zoltai,
    It seems important to put Ms. Feldman’s comments in context.

    Ms. Feldman and the Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL) Board sold the South Euclid-Lyndhurst library branch that had been supported by the community for 60 years. 60 years ago, the CCPL Board bought the Telling Mansion and turned it into the community library. It subsequently was listed as an Ohio Landmark a building on the National Register of Historic Places.

    It cost $700,000 to build in 1930, so you can imagine how beautiful it is.

    Ms. Feldman and the Board sold it to one wealthy person, for pennies on the dollar. It was sold against the community’s wishes and without asking the community if it wanted a new library instead of Telling Mansion. CCPL would not compromise or sit at the table with the community. They assured the community that Telling Mansion would be preserved; sadly, the building is not being preserved and the new owner will not agree to preserve it. This transfer of public wealth to one private person has embittered some members of our community; many say they will never vote for another library levy.

    Saddest of all, is that the South Euclid-Lyndhurst community has declining population and income; the Cleveland area is not doing well economically; we can’t seem to recover from the subprime mortgage fiasco. CCPL’s own consultants said that Telling Mansion could be renovated for $5 million. Instead CCPL is building a new building for $12.6 million; we are all forced to pay for this; CCPL never put the issue on the ballot.

    If you visit our website, you will see that the construction site has flooded neighbor’s homes and that the construction company selected to build the new library was convicted of bribery in connection with construction at the county hospital. This will replace our historic library?

    We asked that CCPL make provision for part of Telling Mansion to remain a library; they refused to do so.

    Sorry, I have gone on too long.

    Ms. Feldman is persuasive and has an impressive resume but it is important to juxtapose this with her deeds and the message her deeds send to the communities that she “serves”.


    • Alexander M Zoltai October 1, 2014 at 8:05 pm

      I must thank you for this “backstory” and for your presentation of the difficulties with your local library…

      I used the information I had in this blog post and concentrated on what seemed valid concerns that Ms. Feldman raised about the future of libraries…

      As far as the facts or even the truth of the situation you describe, I have no knowledge; though, I take the information you’ve provided in good faith…

      I’m only a single person, a writer who blogs, and I attempt to write posts that can inspire conversations about relevant topics in Reading, Writing, and Publishing.

      You have added more information to a “fork in the road” of people’s concerns over libraries and, again, I thank you.


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