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Should Libraries Ditch The Classics?

from the rethinking-the-library dept

J. Austin writes in to point us to an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, which talks about how public libraries are trying to cope with the times. Apparently, faced with "the long tail" problem of limited shelf space, libraries have started removing books that don't get checked out. Unfortunately for lovers of literature classics, this appears to include books like those by Charlotte Bronte, William Faulkner, Thomas Hardy, Marcel Proust and Ernest Hemingway. Instead, they're being replaced by more popular books like those by John Grisham, which will never be mistaken for fine literature. The commentary then looks at what the purpose of the library is, especially in an age where so many books are available so cheaply from online sources. I know that, personally, when I've needed a particularly book, it's often easier to just find a used copy online. The question is whether or not libraries should look at themselves as basically an alternative to bookstores, or if they should be something entirely different. The suggestion is that librarians shouldn't just be store clerks handing out the latest bestseller to people who don't want to buy the book, but "teachers, advisers and guardians of an intellectual inheritance." That sounds great, in theory, but if no one is coming to the library for that purpose, it's hard to see how that helps much. What the article doesn't note is that these same forces that have made books cheaper and more available to online purchasers also applies to libraries as well. You can go into most libraries these days, and if they don't have a specific book, they can order it from another library. It would really be great if libraries could set themselves up as guardians of an intellectual inheritance, but if no one cares about that inheritance, it's difficult to see how that helps very much.

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  1. identicon
    Overcast, 4 Jan 2007 @ 12:40pm

    misanthropic humanis:

    Oh, I'm not even attempting to hide any opinion :)

    I just think it's indicative of the sad state of affairs of the world.

    I did find it interesting; however - what the most common name in London was this last year given to new babies...

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/12/21/nnames21.xml

    So again, who's country is it?

    Funny - how many go on about how wonderful their ideas are, yet their citizens are leaving their countries in droves for the US, UK, and another other 'free' country of the world.

    And the history's being torn away in the process.

    But maybe that's too simplistic of a view :)

    And no, I'm not racist, I just shiver to see many who ARE racist trying to culturally take over so many other portions of the world. -- and then try to say anyone that speaks out against it is 'racist'

    I think it's acceptable if they are moving to assimilate in a country and abide by it's laws, but that's not the case. Many foreign cultures will attempt to impose their culture on the natives of the new countries. The problem is - then the countries they immigrate to, become no better than the ones they left! And yes, of course that's happened before in history, but I'd like to *think* people are wiser now..... but maybe not.

    I think the 'western' view upholds free information and liberty. Whereas places like Mexico and Palestine do not - for different reasons each country is a cesspool in it's own right. If they were wonderful countries. why do their citizens leave to others? I mean - I suspect you think the UK is a great country, and I'd agree - and I also suspect you wouldn't want to leave, anymore than I would want to leave the US.

    And I do realize you can't stereotype everyone, I'm sure the reasons people come to the US and UK are as varied as the families themselves. But we are blind to think that all the reasons are as good as we would like to believe.

    There is a Russian Girl I work 'with' who immigrated over here, and I try to help her all I can. Doesn't matter to me if she wants to stay in the US or leave, she's a friend. But on the other hand, there's a number of Russians that come to the US to pander drugs and arms. Nothing against any culture, I just wish more people would leave the 'appeasement' attitude at the garbage can and stand up for what truly is good in this world. I hear the media spinning it like 'Islam' is such a wonderful religion. Now, I'm sure the reformed ones are, but the original tenants clearly state to kill all non-believers. And I even hesitate to write that, but why - it's the truth, isn't it?

    But then I think God is good, religion is a twisted device of man to further use as a tool for power over others. I cannot think of a *single* religion in the world I would consider *good*. The Catholics are holier than everyone else, while half their clergy rapes kids, the evangelical ones try to rule your life, and steal from the masses while promising heaven, Islam is blowing everything up, Hinduism has so many sub-cults that teach odd mysticism and mind-washing 'power' tricks...

    I suspect those who *truly* seek God are different. But one must realize that whatever created us put a conscious into us that cannot be ignored - at least, for our own good. But honestly, it seems perhaps some of the members of a religion may seek God - but the religion itself... seems all about POWER.

    Of course, the alternative is that we are the products of a series of chemical reactions. If that's true, it doesn't matter what you believe. Of course - if you're wrong.... it may matter.

    And I think 'Political Correctness' is nothing less than 'doublespeak' and can do far more damage than people give it credit for. No culture is perfect, by any means; but many do not endorse killing others to promote their agenda either.

    Eeek!that was long-winded. But I can't deal with this 'Political Correct' BS, anymore I don't really care if people want to see things like they are or not - but you're only lying to yourself if you refuse to see it. And if that's the most intellectual honesty you can give yourself, well - in the long run, you'll be the only one that has to live with that fact :)

    And that was not directed at you MH, it just got me ranting. Most of your posts seem pretty well thought out :) I just can't deal with all this 'doublespeak' anymore.

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