Libraries Wrong to say they are internet cafes ; YOUR SAY [Bristol Evening Post (England)]
(Bristol Evening Post (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ?YOUR correspondent R L Smith asserts that " 'Libraries are little more than internet cafes" (Bristol Post December 20). An amazing proposition, since when I visited the central library this week it still seemed to be full of err, books. Lots and lots of them. And music scores, and maps, and CDs and DVDs, and people looking at them, and in many cases borrowing them to use off the premises. Yes, there are quite a few computers too, but to say that the library is just an internet cafe is just not true. Certain kinds of information are now stored electronically and is accessed through the computers, but this is by no means all of it. The use of digitised media such as Kindle for fiction is growing , but has not yet replaced the printed book. In my own areas of interest, music and local history, very little is available online, and if it is, it comes at a price. The library as we know it, as a repository of printed and recorded material will be around for some time yet. What is shocking about the central library is that so much of it is not directly accessible by the public. This indicates years of neglect and mismanagement of the service. To digitise all that reserve stock is clearly impractical. But it should have been properly catalogued in modern data form, the card indexes replaced by electronic records and incorporated into the main stock database years ago. Because it has not been recorded, and is buried in the catacombs of the building, it has been effectively lost.Those responsible should be asked to explain why an important part of the stock has been lost in this way.
The photograph presumably shows the reserve stock in the basement. It may not be as elegant as the fine oak shelves in the lofty main library, but there doesn't seem any reason why the public couldn't access it.
The incompetent handling of this stock is being used as an excuse to shift it out to a warehouse location, when it should remain a visible and accessible part of the main central library resources.
D K Cave ?HAS R L Smith set foot in a library recently? Taking my local, the Central Library as an example, does he realise that there is barely a seat to be had for months of the year with the reading room and table spaces in the lending library packed to the gunnels with users? Has he witnessed the enormously popular "baby bounce" sessions where parents can take a breather while library staff entertain their children? Can he get his head around the fact that the reference library is a boon for researchers, with the staff superbly aware of the treasures the library reserves have to offer, because they manage the stacks on a daily basis? Every time I have come in to use the library my expectations have been exceeded. Does he ever borrow a DVD or CD or is he rich enough to buy whatever he likes? Is he so self-contained that he has his own computer and internet access so he never, unlike those less fortunate than himself, has to pop into a library to do anything online? Doesn't he care that all libraries are valuable community assets where people can attend a talk by an established author, hold local group meetings or simply get out to socialise? Donald Jones Hotwells Join the debate online VISIT BRISTOLPOST.CO.UK
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