Monday, May 5, 2008

Book Club

A group of local librarians are fighting against what they call a "crisis situation" at the Memphis Public Library and Information Center.

The group — calling themselves Librarians for Memphis Public Library — cite Mayor Willie Herenton's appointment of two non-librarians to run the system, the proposed closures of five public library branches, and the dissolution of the library's board of trustees as a few of the things they are upset about.

Herenton and his administration have said that the library does not need a professional librarian at its head — something many professional librarians strongly disagree with — but that it simply needs a good manager.

I don't want to go into all the background — feel free to read two stories I've written on the library changes here, here, and here — but I don't see any winners in this situation. Surely not longtime library head Judith Drescher. Not new head Keenon McCloy. And certainly not the general public who use the library.

We're having a hard enough time educating the region's young people, and here we're talking about shutting down resources where people can read books, work on the computer, and explore new things, all essentially for free. I get that the closures can save the city $2 million (at the high end) but how much are they going to cost us in the long run?