Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Colleges paying for public libraries?

Here's an interesting library story... Worchester (Mass.?) wants to ask local colleges to help pay for the public libraries. This seems ridiculous to me, though I was very disappointed to see how short the article was. There was a study that showed the city spent $1.5 million responding to local colleges and fraternities... how much of that was library services? I rarely used the public libraries when I was in undergrad or grad school, and I think very, very few of our students use the local public library even for its excellent (and free) movie collection, and it's only a block and a half from campus!

I do think that colleges and universities should consider voluntarily paying local taxes even if they are non-profit institutions. We do draw on the city's police and fire services, snow clearing services, trash removal if that's a government service locally, etc. I know our college pays a certain amount voluntarily. But higher education is in a financial crisis in the same sense that health care is. Tuition jumps 6-10% every year and most administrators are really doing everything they can to prevent this exorbitant inflation. I love libraries, but unless someone can prove our students are using the local public libraries, I think it's silly to ask the colleges to pay for them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's pretty ridiculous. I know for a fact that there are a couple of great college libraries in Worcester, and I bet they allow students from the other area colleges to use their resources. Anyone who uses Worcester's public libe is doing so out of habit from his/her high school days.

Turn this on its head, and what about all the high schoolers who free-ride off of college libraries like mine? If school districts aren't willing to pony up for professional librarians, or even in some cases for libraries, why should we be expected to fill the gap? Note that I'm personally fine with my college library serving high schoolers in the name of community outreach (I'm teaching 22 of them next week), but I'm just showing that there are two sides to this coin.