Yesterday’s Morgan Hill Times contained an opinion piece by Lisa Pampuch, a former City Hall reporter for The Times, former City Editor for the Gilroy Dispatch, and President of the Morgan Hill Friends of the Library. The main point of her article seems to be that we need the public libraries in order to supplement the lack of internet access among a portion of Santa Clara County’s population. In fact her response to the questions “What is the purpose of a library? What is the justification of a tax supported library?” is rather telling-
The Santa Clara County Library’s mission statement answers those questions: “The library provides free access to informational, educational, and recreational materials and services. … The library provides diverse resources on a wide variety of subjects and viewpoints and helps people use these resources.”
Is it just me, or is there absolutely zero justification for a tax supported library in that mission statement? Okay, so the library provides (supposedly) free access to materials and services. But that access isn’t free. It’s funded by money stolen at the point of a gun from the very citizens the library claims to serve.
Here’s some actual numbers for you-
- Combined budgets of public library systems in Santa Clara county – $101,764,193
- Number of households in Santa Clara County – 565,863
- Average household contribution to Santa Clara County library budgets – $179.84
- Cost of internet access through Fry’s/Outpost – $5.99/month ($72/year)
- Number of WiFi Hotspots in Santa Clara County (according to Hotspotr) – 65
- Number of sub-$100 desktop PCs sold on eBay in the last 30 days – 7,991
If you’re really worried about residents Santa Clara County residents having internet access, then you’d be much better off reducing the tax burden on residents by $179.84 per year and allowing them to choose for themselves whether or not to spend that money on internet access. Meanwhile, those who currently have internet access would be free to donate their savings to a library of their choice. The current library branches could be sold off or even simply handed over to the current employees to be run as any other business in a free market place.