Conversations about Blount County’s debt have centered around the Schools and the Justice Center. However, as of 2011, $1.7 million of the outstanding debt was Library debt. In 2011 it was refinanced along with other debt, to become part of the Series 2011 bonds.
People have been expressing to me that they are tired of paying for the library since they don’t use it. This email was interesting because it provided some statistics that show how few people are using libraries and discusses how technology is changing the way people access books and movies.
The statistics are from the UK. We should look at statistics here.
Question: Should the people who don’t use the library continue to pay for it?
“Well that explains why the library sent us messages last summer asking us to contact the commissioners to approve the property tax increase!
Libraries are great but we have to be honest, they aren’t going to last much longer in their current state. More and more people are reading books and watching movies on hand held devices. In 2004 there were about 38,000 bookstores in the US but in 2015 that has dropped to about 25,000. Bookstores will not last much longer, nor will libraries whose fundamental mission is reading paper books.
The number of people visiting libraries at least once a year has declined by at least 25% since records started being kept in 2005. Also the number of libraries declined 9% between 2005 and 2012. In another study nearly 64% of people surveyed had not visited a library a single time in the last year. How much funding should be dedicated to something that only 36% of the public uses?
It’s time to be proactive and shape the library into something that can sustain itself. What’s wrong with charging for library cards or movie rentals? There are probably many ways to generate revenue for those who actually use the library. I know the argument is going to be “I pay my taxes and I should have the library for free.” But conversely, lots of people pay their taxes and get nothing from the library.
With budget issues, it seems like there are more urgent needs.”