Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bookless Library clever use of Stimulus Funding

by Nick Bottom

While some complain that the recently-renovated Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library has shed about 20% of its books, writing letters to the editor and generally complaining, few realize how clever the culling of those books really is.
"Sure, we've had to part with some great books," said Tommy E. Reader, head librarian, "like most of Dickens, Tolstoy, and Jackie Collins. But the absence of books is only part of the real story."
Indeed, many library patrons, after visiting the shiny new library have remarked the renovations look great, but have asked, "Where are the books?"
It seems a little-known part of the massive federal stimulus bill provides funding for libraries to remove books.
"It's a little like the farm subsidy program," the head librarian noted. "Instead of getting paid not to plant a crop, we're getting paid to not shelve books."
In fact, the library staff has grown since the remodeled library re-opened.
"With these federal dollars rolling in, it made sense to hire more folks, especially in these hard times. A job is a job. When the federal government will pay you to not shelve a book, we figured we could also get paid to not check out a book, not repair worn books, and not point out books to patrons seeking information or enlightenment."
The future looks bright at the bookless library. Since the non-books do not take up space, nor weigh anything, there are plans to open up branch libraries in the future.
A branch library containing, say, 100,000 non-books would take up the same amount of space as a small linen closet. "We hope to open a branch in every neighborhood in the county," said Reader. "Of course, they'll be small branches, but they'll have the same number of books as the main library."
And since the non-books have no weight, several bicycle-based "Bookmobiles" are planned.
"Just imagine all the kids we will be able to serve this summer," he continued.
"Imagine children running to the book-mobile bicycle, smiles on their faces, being able to take home as many non-books as they imagine they can hold."
Bookless libraries are just the start of a great economic trend. In fact, many school districts are studying the idea of student-less school districts, while local governments are hoping to adopt politician-less city councils.