Books, not ebooks
It was disheartening to read in the Brainerd Dispatch’s the report on Crow Wing County budget requests regarding the Kitchigami Regional Library System. There were many aspects of the comments given to the county board by Marian Ridge, library director that are disturbing.
First, and foremost, is discontinuing the mobile library service. This is a means by which many people, and particularly seniors, can continue the enjoyment of reading without having to travel many miles. A round trip to Brainerd, which is the closest regional library to the Emily mobile library stop, may vary between 80 to 100 miles. The County Board should be looking for ways to reduce miles driven and not increasing miles driven.
I can already hear the response to this which is using electronic readers. Regardless of the perception, not all individuals have computers, and many that do have computers do not have the computer skills necessary to make full usage of them. Ms. Ridge indicated that the library has about 750 titles and is paying others for material. How many thousands of books are not available?
No longer will older book editions, particularly serial books, be available. A library should not be just for current editions, as is implied.
Ms. Ridge statement that a valid library card is free was no more than a smoke screen which I believe was to mislead the county board.
The cost of electronic readers is another concern. A quick check of one retail store had a price range of $100 to $500, and as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. These are not costs that are compatible with the overall economics of the County, since Crow Wing County is not a high income area.
The comment of one Commissioner regarding user purchases of books indicated a lack of economic concern for the citizens.
As for the public wanting E-books, there was not a single person I spoke to who uses the mobile library that had any interest in E-books, and several do not even have computers. It appears that Ms. Ridge has her own agenda and it is not serving the entire community but only the high end users.