Libraries are currently changing in order to adjust to chancing economic times. Karen Ann Cullotta’s Article “Libraries See Opening as Bookstores Close” centered on changes that were happening in Arlington Heights, Ill. Presumably, the changes seen here are similar to ones that are happening in libraries across the country.
Libraries have two competing consideration. They can stock their shelves with books that their in-house curators consider to be works of literary merit, or they can stock them with best sellers like the “Fifty Shades trilogy.” Most libraries, will fall somewhere on a spectrum. It is important to give library-goers what they want, but also to be a mecca for good literature that can be discovered. Libraries are starting to look to and adapt bookstore models and be run like a business, even referring to patrons as customers.
Susan Crawford in her article response “Failing to Close the ‘Digital Divide’” sees libraries as serving one fundamental purpose: Internet access. She sites statistics that 92 percent of blacks, 86 percent of Latinos and 72 percent of whites surveyed said it was very important for libraries to have access to the Internet. She finds that there is a gap between rich and poor and minorities and that they use the library because they do not have their own access to the Internet.
Demand for a library’s resources is leading to having less than an ideal amount of computers for Internet access. Again Crawford cites statistics that 87 percent of urban libraries report having insufficient computers and only 17 percent of rural libraries offered high speed Internet. She sees Internet as something essential in the 21st century and does not feel libraries are currently meeting that need efficiently.
Luis Herrera in his response title feels that libraries are “More Relevant Than Ever.” He has the same set of statistics that Susan Crawford had, but felt that libraries were making good of there resources. He points that 100 percent of libraries offer Internet access and 90 percent offer computer training in a variety of languages.
He finds libraries as a place for growth and a gathering of people. Libraries understood his way are an expression of American freedom, a place where people have “the freedom to read, the freedom to choose and the freedom to share our ideas” (Herrera).
Matthew Battles ascribes to a much more fluid definition of libraries than the other authors. He sees them as institutions that have always had a flexibility to change with the time, while tending to have some immutable themes that remain fairly constant.
A library, can be, as the previous articles show, many things to many people and this is exactly Battles’ point: there is not single definition of a library; it is something that is constantly evolving and something that we create.
When judging these papers, it was important to take into effect the principle argument and exposition as presented by Cullotta, since some of the authors failed to fully engage in her premise and instead used it as a springboard to argue not entirely related issues.
In assigning an HCTSR score to these articles, I think the original article that prompted the discussion merits a 4 on the scale. The thesis of the article is that bookstores are closing and libraries are changes. Cullotta does a good job of explaining the background of what is happening, connects it to major events and changes in the world, gives an anecdotal example of one particular library in Illinois and then uses this to both relate exactly how one specific library is changing, how it is related to how all libraries are changing and where and how libraries will continue to change.
I score Susan Crawford’s response “Failing to close the ‘Digital divide’” a 2 on the scale. Her response misinterprets a lot of the evidence and seemed to be less in the discussion of the place of libraries in society and how they are and should change, but instead developed a case for why it was important to have the Internet. Certainly, libraries are a source for this, but it seems that of all government entities, libraries are succeeding more than any other in providing the public with free Internet access. All of this is interesting, but only loosely related to the subject broached by Cullotta.
Luis Herrera’s response merits a 3 on the HCTSR because he accurately put libraries in their American context and also brought to the table the issue of changing demands and the need to change the landscape of libraries in order to provide to readers what they need. He discussed some good anecdotal evidence about a specific library in San Fran Cisco and successfully argued why libraries are “more relevant than ever.”
I assign Matthew Battles’ article “For Gathering and for Solitude” a 3. His response tended to be high minded and avoided tackling too many specifics, but his argument was such that it would not have been strengthened by specific instances, and actually it would have been rather paradoxical to do so. He was making a point that to everyone making a point about what a library was, that he had news for them, a library is whatever we want and need it to be. They have changed in the past, are changing now and will continue to change.
One thing that is clear from these four authors is that libraries are changes. I like Battles overall perspective that we libraries are fluid, up to us the public as to what they will be. This gives us as readers of literature a lot of power since it is essentially our opinion and needs that will shape the libraries of today and lead to the libraries of tomorrow.
Battles, Matthew. "Libraries Are for Gathering and for Solitude - Room for Debate - NYTimes.com." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Sept. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/12/27/do-we-still- need- libraries/libraries-are-for-gathering-and-for-solitude>.
CULLOTTA, KAREN ANN . "Libraries Struggle to Close the 'Digital Divide' - Room for Debate - NYTimes.com." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Sept. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/12/27/do-we-still- need- libraries/libraries-struggle-to-close-the-digital-divide>.
Crawford, Susan . "Libraries Struggle to Close the 'Digital Divide' - Room for Debate - NYTimes.com." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.
<http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/12/27/do-we-still- need- libraries/libraries-struggle-to-close-the-digital-divide>.
Herrera, Luis. "Libraries Are More Relevant Than Ever - Room for Debate - NYTimes.com." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Sept. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/12/27/do-we-still-need-libraries/