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San Jose Library Blasted in Bayosphere

I ventured into my “opinions” section in Bloglines a couple of minutes ago on my lunch break while I nuked leftovers in the microwave, and found something else nuclear on Bayosphere, which I don’t read as often as I should: Steven Zenith’s reaction to the San Jose Public Library. He fulminates (often in upper case) about this “ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY SEVEN MILLION DOLLAR new library” that doesn’t seem to have enough books.

I know the San Jose library two ways. I know it as an interesting edifice I’ve presented at a couple of times, a library with a neato huge blinking board showing current items checked out and study tables that looked pretty comfy, and far more intimately and profitably, I know it as one of the sharing libraries in the fruit-juicy-good Link+ consortium (which like many bad library acronyms is not easily findable in Google the way I phoneticize it, as “Link Plus”). I use Mountain View Public Library as my borrowing library for Link+, and books come from all over–it’s a delightful service, for those times when genuine dead-tree books are what I need. I love every library that has ever shared with me. I love you, I love you, I love you!

I’m puzzled by Mr. Zenith’s ire, but I’m wondering what we can say to him besides trotting out the materials budget, which he seems to have trouble deciphering: “So that we can get this clear. A massive concrete icon has been built in San Jose that salves the souls of those that DO NOT READ BOOKS. Or they simply NEVER USE A LIBRARY because either the scope of their reading is so limited that any book they would read is available and onsale at BORDERS…” That blinking circ board would suggest otherwise. (I tried finding circ stats on the website, but got a bit lost–and the microwave just dinged.)

He desperately needs some librarian intervention. He needs to find out what San Jose can deliver that he needs, how he can use it as a gateway to the world of information, maybe some tips on modern research methods, and perhaps a soothing tour of the children’s room. Or maybe he just needs a little time-out for a while and then we can approach him, gently, palm up, to let him sniff us and know we’re really ok, and that this library is better than he thinks–and that the library materials budget ultimately reflects the priorities of PEOPLE LIKE HIM.

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