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Friday, 12.15.2017
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2:55 AM
A Culture of Spending Part 9 - Ignoring Modern Trends.

May I ask a question of those who have children at high school or at university? Where do your children go when they need information? Do they go to a library and look up information in books using the card index or do they go to the internet and do a Google search?

For my two children, the internet is the first place they look. This was the case when they were at High school and is certainly the case now they are both at university.

They use only a small number of paper text books. Paper books are expensive to buy and heavy to carry. Nearly all the books they use are .pdf files on their PCs. And as far as I know, neither of my children have ever used a council library.

The federal and state governments are cutting back on spending for local libraries. They seem to know that libraries are on the way out.

Our council knows this also but they won't show leadership or common sense in this area. On page 1016 of the minutes, council ask for more money for local libraries.

This is how they describe the value of local libraries:

"Victorias public library services ... play a critical role in the development of online information and communication access to local communities"       

"Public libraries are highly valued by the community as accessible public meeting places and information hubs with free access to books, publications and the internet..."

From the councils own description, it seems that access to books is now ranked as being important as other services such as being meeting places, information hubs (i.e. Notice boards) and internet access.

It would seem that a local library is now more like an internet cafe. Books that you can read and borrow now are seen as a bit of an afterthought.

It seems our council knows that libraries are on the way out and is desperately trying to justify providing a service that is becoming less and less relevant to students and the public.

But the justifications they provide are deeply flawed.

To start, my children's meeting place is not the library but Facebook.

Second, if they need access to the internet, the last place they need to go to is the council library.

Telstra, NBN, and private internet service providers have been connecting people to the internet over the past few years at incredible rates. So even the library's role as an internet access site is only for a limited time.

I recently I purchased a mobile internet device for my daughter from a popular internet provider. It cost me $10 per month with a contract for 12 months. Now she can access the internet anywhere, including on buses, trains, even on the university lawns, etc.

The cost of this device is even less than the cost of bus fares to the council library! As the use of devices like this increase, council libraries won't even even have a role providing communication or internet access to people.

These council libraries are very expensive dinosaurs. They are expensive to stock with books, the new one at Warrandyte being a good example of the set up cost of a new library.

All the time, the relevance of council libraries is being undermined by advances in technology and reduction in costs (by private enterprise that is).

So why is Manningham council and other councils so interested in funding libraries?

Again it is most likely about jobs for their employees. They will never get rid of staff - regardless of changes in the real world.

Please allow me to give you an insight into how government works and how government managers views jobs.

Two of my friends are retired teachers. One recently went back to the Education Department as a contractor to do a particular job. On the first day, he was called into the managers office and told that he was not to recommend anything in his report that would threaten anyone's job. Other than that he could recommend anything he thought would help.

Probably the staff at Manningham Council think the same way. You simply cannot threaten anyone's job.

Advances in technology, game changing price reductions - absolutely nothing at all is allowed to threaten any government job. The fact that libraries and their staff are under worked, overpaid and becoming largely irrelevant is simply not important.

 

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