Library Closures

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Library Closures

1aspirit
Editado: Nov 7, 2020, 4:52pm

A related topic....

Library closures limit exposure to books. Not everyone has access to books from bookstores or private collections that are comparable to what a typical public library offers. When a library closes without a replacement, its physical books are destroyed or rehomed in new areas that can restrictive to the former patrons of the closed library. For library patrons who can access ebooks and audiobooks, the titles the closed library might have provided aren't always available elsewhere.

In the USA, poor pandemic responses and other political concerns have been putting the future of library funding into question. Without funding, libraries close.

Nashville Public Library in Nashville, Tennessee is concerned about a proposed tax rollback that could create a shortfall the NPL director says could force closures of 90% of its 21 libraries. The city library network was named "best in the nation" in 2017 and has a service area covering 1.5 million people. However, it would be reduced to only one or two libraries if the proposed tax rollback went through.

https://wpln.org/post/nashville-library-director-says-tax-rollback-could-close-m...

I doubt the rollback in Nashville will happen. But the proposal and debate around it does highlight a risk to libraries.

edited for clarity

2lilithcat
Set 19, 2020, 1:51pm

What does this have to do with banned books?

No books are being banned; they are simply unavailable for reasons not within the control of the library.

3aspirit
Set 19, 2020, 2:24pm

>2 lilithcat: Instead of challenging individual books at individual public libraries, nearly the entirety of a large system can be shut down. This scenario wouldn't make an entry into a banned book list but is related. Either way, when a book is challenged or an entire catalogue is at risk, the libraries have to fight to keep published books in their collections accessible to readers.

4lilithcat
Set 19, 2020, 2:26pm

I disagree.

The fact that a pandemic or budget shortfalls result in library closures is not banning books.

Book banning means that a particular title is deliberately targeted for removal.

No books are being challenged. The books are still there, even though inaccessible.

the libraries have to fight to keep published books in their collections accessible to readers.

Not if it means re-opening in the midst of a pandemic when your community is not taking the necessary steps to ensure the health of both patrons and staff.

5aspirit
Set 19, 2020, 2:34pm

>4 lilithcat: I feel as you don't understand this topic.

By closures, neither I nor the Nashville Public Library director in my example are talking about temporary restrictions for public safety. This isn't actually about the pandemic.

The concern about library closures well predates the existence of the novel coronavirus.

6aspirit
Editado: Set 19, 2020, 2:48pm

The concern about disappearing libraries will continue after the pandemic....

>2 lilithcat: I'm confused why you came into a thread with the assumption that the topic is off-topic for this group. Is it the topic title? I guess it is misleading while people are thinking "Virus!" all the time.

7MarthaJeanne
Set 19, 2020, 3:17pm

This still isn't censorship, as such. It certainly does limit some people's access to books, but very differently from the issues of libraries being challenged for carrying books on topics that the challenger dislikes.

8lilithcat
Set 19, 2020, 3:35pm

>6 aspirit: -

You said, "In the USA, poor pandemic responses and other political concerns have been putting the future of library funding into question.

9aspirit
Set 19, 2020, 4:53pm

>8 lilithcat: I'm sorry. My opening post wasn't clear enough.

>7 MarthaJeanne: A common argument is that book banning isn't censorship unless a national government prohibits a book's distribution to the public. Then when that does happens, the ban isn't censorship because there are Reasons. But, anyway, that's not what Banned Book Week or advocacy groups are usually focused on in the USA.

In my opinion, the usual focus is valid. Bans don't have to be considered censorship to matter, and neither does the permanent shutdown of libraries that are some people's only source of the books that become popular enough for challenges.

10margaretbartley
Nov 7, 2020, 3:40pm

>2 lilithcat: I think aspirit was correct in posting a related thread to this group. To me, "banned" does not refer to a specific type of official act, but refers to a general attitude in the power structure that wants to keep certain information out of the public domain. Burning books, like they did to Wilhelm Reich, or jailing authors, like they did with Hulda Clark and Reich, or just not including material in the public libraries, it seems to me, belongs to the same topic as banning.
I remember going to a librarian at the King County Library and bringing in six different magazines about First People's culture, history, contemporary interests. They had over a hundred different magazine, 3 or 4 just on antique collecting - all kinds of obscure hobbyist magazines, but NONE on Native Americans.
The magazines i brought in ran the gamut from the equivalent to supermarket tabloids to academic journals on indigenous anthropology.
She sniffed her nose (noisily) and exclaimed in a shocked voice, "I won't even bring these up!" and turned on her feet and stomped away from the desk.
I was shocked.

Closing down libraries, along with dumping books, or replacing books with computers and community events are all ways of shutting down the amount and type of information that the general public has access to.

11lilithcat
Nov 7, 2020, 3:56pm

Sorry, but I think it's wrong, and harmful, to equate library closures and accessioning decisions due to budget constraints with "banning" books. Doing so minimizes government censorship.

Libraries can't have everything. It's financially and physically impossible. Choices must be made.

bringing in six different magazines

Not clear about your point. Were you asking the library to subscribe? In which case, they likely have a process they're required to go through. Trying to donate? Most libraries don't take donated materials, other than to put in a book sale, because it costs money to accession materials.

12aspirit
Nov 7, 2020, 5:11pm

For comparison: https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2019/09/20/nashville-public-library-ban...

Book censorship impedes access to literature and information. For a public library such as Nashville Public Library, unfettered, undiscriminating access to reading is the core of our work – it is in our library DNA. Access is the key word. Librarians work to ensure access to ideas, popular and unpopular, within financial constraints.


In my opinion, the intent behind financial constraints makes a difference in whether it's censorship or government protecting other resources needed by the people it serves. A government cutting off an available funding source that's needed to continue offering a million people access to some thousands of books and other materials? Without excellent justification, that looks like a deliberate government attempt to remove thousands of books from public view.

A single book challenged so that a thousand students can't check it out from school elicits censorship concerns. So does the limitation in one publisher's ebook terms for financial reasons. But this NPL issue is at least thousand times bigger in scale.

13margaretbartley
Nov 8, 2020, 7:18am

>11 lilithcat: I wasn't clear in my post. My intention in showing magazines to the librarian was to point out that there are quite a few magazines about native American life and culture, and their library, with over a hundred magazine subscriptions didn't have any, and that they should consider adding at least one or two.

I was not expecting the librarian to whom I was speaking to fill out a subscription form on the spot, I was assuming she would let me know what the process was for suggesting new magazines.

Instead, she acted ilke I had deeply and deliberately insulted her, (which i did not, I was being friendly and informative) and refused to discuss it or bring it up at their selection meetings.

I put that story in my posting as an illustration of what I consider to be deliberately keeping unwanted material out of the public's reach. That is the whole point of book banning, and I think librarian blinders is an important part of that discussion.