Hampton Bays, N.Y., voters on June 14 rejected a $15.8 million new library, shocking officials who had made 30 presentations for it. Libraries, like newspapers, have been upstaged by the web.
The bond was rejected by a 719-507 margin, with opponents garnering 58.6% of the total.
The owner of a $350K house would have paid $326 yearly over the next 20 years or a total jump of $2,400 ($120 additional each year). “We put up a project that the public basically told us they wanted,” said library VP David Zimmerman, showing that the board was out of touch with public sentiment.
We're glad to see HB citizens putting a lid on library expansionism since the people in town where we reside most of the year, Westhampton, have been unable to do so.
HB’s population of 13,000 is much larger than the 3,000 population of WH and is largely middle and lower income. The WH income level is far higher. Slightly higher library taxes are no problem to them. A large percentage hike to Florida and other warm climates in the winter.
There is organized opposition to the self-appointed WH library board in the form of the website “Residents for a Free Westhampton Free Library.”
Citizens Fight Self-Appointed Board
The group, which has been asking the board to switch from appointed to elected trustees for more than a year, charges the board with “complete lack of transparency and accountability” and denounces its plans to spend $3 million+ renovating a six-year-old, $7.8M building including building out the second floor. It has $4.1M in cash and deposits, partly from a $1.3M bequest from the estate of Ann Skovek.
The residents note that increasing library space by 2,750 sq. ft. will mean more staffing, heating, air conditioning and maintenance costs for a facility that is mostly used during the summer months. Also a source of irritation is the new $15.7M firehouse which residents call “the Taj Mahal.”
The residents did not have enough votes to block the library budget May 17, 2016 but they were heartened by the size of the turnout. The vote was 302-162 in favor of the budget. The “no” vote was 35% of the total whereas the “no” vote for the 2015 budget was 128 or 20% of the total.
Who Needs Libraries?!
The web is decimating many of the traditional services and functions of libraries.
They are fighting the onslaught in two ways—providing banks of computer stations and promoting a host of “community services” such as exercise classes, games like bridge, canasta and Mah Jong, cooking and art classes, yoga lessons, “meditation” sessions and other forms of education and entertainment.
Global Citizen, analyzing the plight of libraries, says that since the web is now the “main vehicle for people to get information, the tradition of a building stuffed with books is less relevant to our modern times.”
Teen Asks: “Are Libraries Obsolete?”
“WritingRabbit,” writing on “Teen Ink,” pondered the question of whether, “In this digital day and age, are libraries obsolete?” Here are portions of the answer with the link providing the full essay.
“Personally, I love libraries. Or perhaps, more accurately, I love the theory of libraries. I haven't actually been to or used a library in months. Why would I need to? There's iBooks, Kindle, Nook, and much more; all with their own extensive library of ebooks, and all that can be accessed right from my own home.
“I no longer need to drag myself to a physical library and endure screaming children as I browse the stacks and shelves in hopes of finding a good book. Instead, I can go to Goodreads.com and look at a number of lists of books that would interest me, all while getting handy feedback from previous readers. Or, if I'm looking for reading material that's a bit lighter, I can go to Wattpad and choose from millions of fun, purely enjoyable stories of every type--and for free as well. Libraries? Why would anyone need libraries?
Libraries Called “Social” Places
“A newspaper article that I read argued that we need libraries as a social gathering place, for lectures or cooking classes. But let's get real, if I want to hear a lecture, I'll download a podcast. If I need a cooking tutorial, I'll go straight to YouTube. The internet is my social gathering place.
“Google, Bing, and Yahoo are a man's best friend, and I'm being raised in the middle of Generation Techno. I can do everything libraries can do, and as long as I have my iPad, from the comfort of my own home as well. And if that's the only argument for a library's purpose, then we better lay down our weapons right now, because then libraries really are obsolete.
“But I'd like to present a new argument for why libraries should continue to stick around for a while: sanctity. Libraries are doing the important job of preserving the sanctity of writing…”
Libraries Should Have Wi-Fi Warnings
There are no signs in any of the Hamptons libraries warning patrons and especially children not to put cellphones close to their bodies or ears, not to carry them in the pockets or sleep near them and to have wired computer, mouse and keyboard. This is stock advice on numerous radiation heath sites. There is no question that the huge amount of pulsed radiation is a health hazard, especially to children, seniors and staff who are exposed all day long.
We thought libraries were supposed to be at the forefront of knowledge and not opponents of it.