Should Provo continue to fund the Provo City Library?

Last I heard, the budget to maintain the Provo City Library was just over the $3 million mark. I get why library’s existed, I suppose I just don’t get why they exist in 2017. The biggest arguments I’ve heard on why we need a library:

  • A place for youth to participate in summer programs
  • A place for people to get away from distractions and study
  • A place for those who can’t afford a computer can use one along with the internet

Library’s used to be the way one would learn new information and discover more about the world. Now, just about everybody in America is a click away from that same information (and a TON more). So really, it seems like our tax dollars are catering to a very very small group of the population who absolutely need a library. So why are we still spending millions of dollars? The way I see it, Provo would benefit from one of two things:

  1. Downsize like crazy. You don’t need all of those books. The book snobs will of course flip out at this idea, but they can all afford to go buy/rent their own books. Yes, it sucks that you have to start paying for books, but we’re talking about saving a lot of taxpayer money.
  2. In terms of “need” I would agree that a citizen of Provo would greatly benefit from having access to the internet. Internet is becoming as critical as electricity and gas in a home. You could take a fraction of that budget and purchase a laptop for those who need one. With free internet from Google, they are set. You can do that for a heck of a lot cheaper than $3M+.

I know this question makes me seem like Uncle Scrooge, but I just don’t see why we are spending so much freaking money on such an outdated system in 2017. Provo is supposed to be a tech-savvy city, yet we continue to invest in the past.

Active User Asked on May 26, 2017
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2 Answer(s)

I think the author is obviously being a little extreme, maybe on purpose, to prove a point. But If you can overlook that, he has some points worth thinking about.

If you read this with the mindset of “he wants to get rid of the library!!??”, then yeah, you’ll probably just ignore his points completely. I read it more as “Hey, let’s see if we can bring more/better value to residents by thinking out of the box when it comes to how we run our libraries”.

I don’t want to get rid of classic or educational books, but should we be subsidizing the purchase of new, mindless YA novels? Would it be cheaper to move all new fiction to e-books? I have no idea, but it’s worth a conversation.

And its not just about saving money, its about spending it better and being on the cutting edge of public educational programs. Chromebooks are insanely cheap (especially in bulk to non-profits) could we be the first library to offer subsidized rental/purchases of cheap chromebooks? or is someone else doing that already? Even better, we can see if its working first!

I don’t say the following to promote my good deeds, but I’ve purchased cheap ($100) chromebooks for 3 or 4 people who I was trying to help get back on their feet. Just the ability to have easy access at home to free online training programs and the ability to job search effectively (using desktop chrome vs mobile, really is night and day, and gives them experience using a laptop) made a huge difference for them.

I guess my point is, I was surprised to see how may “progressive” people mocked this little blurb when it was posted on facebook, when I would have expected those same people to be the first ones saying “Yeah, lets not bag the whole library, but good point on us trying to be more tech-savvy and progressive when it comes to our antiquated ideas of what a library is and does.

We’re so programmed to get defensive over certain trigger words. If a liberal hears anything about cutting funding, or rethinking it, they stop listening to everything else said. If a Conservative likes your ideas about restructuring and refocusing a program, he/she immediately disregards all the points you made upon finding out you don’t want to fully privatize or slash funding for the program.  It’s funny, but in a sad way.  

Active User Answered on June 29, 2017.
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There is a huge emotional attachment to libraries, especially in a small family-oriented city like Provo. I’m not in favor of just getting rid of them, but I do recognize that the city blows a lot of unnecessary tax dollars on libraries that simply don’t need to be spent. I think there is room in the middle to downsize and stick with what the city NEEDS. I’d rather that money go towards improving the schools themselves.

Active User Answered on June 29, 2017.
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