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Letters to the Editors

Library system should improve inventory first


© St. Petersburg Times
published March 30, 2003

Editor: Re: County libraries should receive a higher priority, March 23 letter to the editor:

The problem isn't about needing new library buildings; it is about the lack of books.

When was the last time you tried to get a fairly new book from the library? It is almost impossible. The ones they have are checked out for a month, and that is how long most people keep them. Even if you put the book on reserve, it still takes months.

To get anything new you must use the Pasco County system, and that is not fair, because we pay our taxes in Hernando County.

Improve the inventory, and then talk to us about new buildings.
-- Judith Barbagallo, Weeki Wachee

New age, new caution on libraries

Editor: Re: County libraries should receive a higher priority, March 23 letter to the editor:

I am neither for nor against the building of a new library, but I caution all those involved in the approval process (especially our county commissioners) to think about this in light of the different world we live in.

Just two examples:

-- Mr. Webb cites statistics about numbers of books per resident, expenditures per employee, square footage, etc., and compares us to the rest of the state as if that should be the standard to which all libraries are built.

That may be well and good, but because we are a relatively new county, in the sense that we have lots of open space and are growing quickly (versus older, established counties with a stable population whose libraries were founded and funded by decisions made in the 1980s and '90s), we are doing most of our "growing" in a digital age. As with all things digital, costs go down exponentially; just look at prices on cameras, phones, computers, etc.

My fear is we may be led astray in our thinking by using old standards of measure to determine need/usage. Do we really need that many books, or the space to put them in? Or are the numbers of people walking in the doors of the library to use computers and attend social meetings about taxes and what-not being counted with traditional patrons wanting to check out a book? Doesn't doing so give the impression, therefore, for a requirement necessitating more square footage for more books and more staff and more bureaucracy to manage it all?

-- Another argument may be that we need more space because so many patrons are using the computers in the library. Let me urge caution on this, too.

As with the Internet cafes of the early '90s, which grew like weeds everywhere, as soon as computers became less expensive and Internet connectivity became more prevalent, people lost the need to use Internet cafes. They folded.

Today, prices continue to plummet, and very soon we may be faced with the fact that all homes will be wired, everyone will have a communications device integrated into the TV or phone (obviating the need for computers) and we will end up with huge library buildings, large staffs, and no customers.

We need to be really careful about how we interpret the numbers provided to justify any new construction so as not to be caught in this trap of outdated thinking. Whereas these may seem to be "classical" approaches to justify a requirement, I believe we'd be better off asking some hard questions about the statistics thrown at us and making decisions based on the measures and reality of our new age.

Remember, we should be practicing good, innovative and responsible government, not keep-up-with-the-Joneses government.
-- Vilmar Tavares, Spring Hill

Charter government makes sense

Editor: Re: Spring Hill needs own government, March 21 letter to the editor:

John J. Pennellatore's opinion to encourage charter government for Spring Hill makes sense, given the distinct quality of its residents, most from the northeastern United States and many from the metropolitan New York area, including New Jersey.

Mr. Pennellatore points out that Spring Hill would get out from under the control of the County Commission. That's another good point, given the curiously carved lines of demarcation that separate Brooksville from Spring Hill and, for that matter, east of downtown Brooksville toward Ridge Manor, Nobleton and Istachatta.

Critical to charter government is the fact that a professional administrator is given special statutory powers to operate the incorporated government without the confusion of a board directing day-to-day operations and making decisions for public policy. A board made up of homemakers or interested persons in the community elected, despite the lack of credentials, for managing millions of dollars in budget considerations. A board like ours, which can urge additional pressure on county staff to move in lockstep with what some persons note are "kitchen policies" to halt, for instance, the movement of collective bargaining or urge presumptions by human resources for personnel policies that may be questionable.

Charter government is not that difficult to get under way, so Spring Hill residents should continue to urge the effort.
-- Deron Mikal, Brooksville

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