A Modest Proposal for Libraries From Being a Burden and to Make Them Beneficial to the Public.
Let me begin by stating my sincerest apology to the public of Miami Dade County. As a librarian, I am part of the problem and I am sorry. You see, libraries are part of county services and funded through your property taxes. As a result, I have been paid to work in a library. Put these two points together and we get this, libraries and librarians = socialism. Why should your tax dollars fund us when you don’t want your property taxes to be raised? I agree with you. Here’s more to the point.
Edward McClelland wrote about this very problem back in 2011. He noted that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has raised fees on vehicle stickers as well as keeping libraries open.
I can’t think of a more egregious example of government-sponsored socialism than the public library. Unproductive citizens without two nickels to rub together are given access to millions of books they could never afford to buy on their own — all paid for with the tax dollars of productive citizens. Does the government pay for people to rent tuxedos for free, sail boats for free, or play golf for free? No, it does not. So why should it pay for people to read books and surf the Internet for free?
I could not have said this better myself. I have personally have seen such waste and I for one apologize. We have allowed patrons to waste their time on the computer looking on Facebook and other frivolous things like making résumés and cover letters, looking at cat pictures, filling out Section 8 forms and ACCESS Florida accounts. Even worse, if they are filling out Unemployment Claims, they are sucking more money from the public—nevermind when they say that they are so grateful that this is the only place that they can go for internet and computer access! All these people can do this at home on their dime—not on your hard-earned money. Have them go to Kinko’s, that’s what they are for.
And what about those damn kids who run around in the library using your taxes to hang out, do homework, research, and go online? They should run on the streets, be outside your shopping centers and in your neighborhood playing around there rather than be safe in an air-conditioned building surrounded by knowledge and exposed to recreational/educational programs with sensible adults who actually care about them; that’s what school is for.
This brings me to this final point about our patrons – the homeless. Tell me what do they contribute to the library? Nothing. All they do is come in our buildings because we have A/C, power to charge their cell phones, read our books, take our newspaper coupons, dirty our bathrooms and use our computers. They are benefitting from the free public library rather than having some type of income to help pay and offset some of the costs for these services. We should not care that they have no one or nowhere to go. Never mind that they are could suffering from personal issues, lack of education or have various states of mental health. That’s not our problem. We need to close down as many libraries as this will only be encouraging them to loiter. The homeless need to either get a job or stay at a shelter; that’s what they are there for.
I can safely say that the courage by Mayor Carlos Gimenez and those Commissioners who voted to have your property tax rate stay flat may be the true saviors. They had courage and wisdom to say no to increase the millage so that the library system cannot remain in operation as status quo. As a result, 22 library branches are expected to be closed down and over 250 library support staff cut. Thank your Mayor and commissioners for speaking on your behalf and hearing your sentiment: no new taxes. It is great that our esteemed Mayor can live up to his promises.
As such, I now see what I have been doing was wrong for the county. I have decided not to be a burden on the county and will look for work elsewhere. I want you to have even less property taxes levied against your house—the extra $8 per month can definitely be put to something much more useful, like, say… a #9 from McDonalds with an upgraded drink. I will do my best to encourage my colleagues to do the same—it may be difficult as they seem to be invigorated with the spirit and apparent knowledge that libraries are a core of a community and that they strengthen democracy. To put it bluntly, this is not about us; it’s about you saving money on your property taxes. But I would do have a small favor to ask in return.
I asked that you help me to tell the rest of the county citizens in support of the library closures to do 22 book burning rallies. Now, before you think this is a bad thing and think oh, didn’t the Nazis do this – yes but that’s not the point, I want to save the county more money. Of the 22 proposed library branches to be closed, this still leaves 27 branches still open. What do you think is going to happen to all the library materials? There is no physical way to absorb that much inventory in so little remaining space. Yes, we could have a book sale and sell the books off but there will still be left over material that still needs to be packed, shipped and “stored” at the Main library. That is just a waste of time and resources. Besides, what ever is left over is not going into storage but rather in the garbage bin and be sent to be burn away. Why waste YOUR money? Let’s be more efficient. That’s what we want to see from our government; more efficiency and less fat.
So rather than using public funding, let’s say we do a Kickstarter-like fund to get 22 large dumpsters; one for each location. Now, we are going to need to work fast on this because come October 1, 2013 those affected branches will be closed for good. In those three weeks after that, the library will have to “pack” up all the library material and put them in “storage”. Again, it will take three weeks to clear all these libraries using manpower. If we have the dumpsters already there, we can have the libraries cleared in a few days. The climax to do this hard work is to have the book burning and by doing so, we can have less trash going to the land fill. But let’s not stop there; we can go further.
We have 27 working libraries, why is everything free? As McCelland noted, working people don’t get things for free so why fund those who take advantage of a free library? Let the library start charging for things. Information is not free. It costs the library money to have internet access. The more people on computers the higher the electricity bill. I don’t see FPL giving away their power for free; right? Never mind the hidden cost of the furniture, computers, A/C and staff support to make sure the computers and network is running well. Sure we charge library patrons to print stuff but if they don’t print, we lose money and the patron walks away from not paying computer and internet access time. This has got to stop! Two points here: if you need to use the library – pay for it and second, libraries need to be treated as a business and start generating revenue. I say no more to the library suckling on the county’s teat for funding. If people cannot pay for their own access to the internet, well, they shouldn’t be around at all—who cares if they are unemployed, lower-income, a child, or disabled? You certainly shouldn’t. If you cannot fund yourself, you are out of business; plain and simple.
However, I have an even better solution, too. The wise commissioners for Miami Dade County have already voted on the millage rate, and due to our esteemed County laws, which that rate cannot be raised—only lowered! There is still time to tell your commissioners to lower the millage rate even further! I’m not sure of the dates for the next two public meetings but the last one is the most crucial. This will seal the deal and if you want to close even more libraries, lower your property taxes even further now is the time. Let your voices be heard and tell your commissioners to lower the millage even further. If we are successful, we will need even more dumpsters. Can you imagine all 49 library branches closed and a book burning rally in each one? This will be a glorious site to behold that will live in infamy and think how much money you will save this year. We can do this folks but none of this will happen without you. Please act now! Now is the most important thing because it will never come again.
This has been my modest proposal.