To help defray the additional cost the new Largo Library is going to add to the city's budget -- nearly a million dollars -- there should be a charge for all library cards.
It need not be an exorbitant fee and children can be exempted, so that their use of the library and interest in learning is encouraged.
Actually, there is no good argument against a fee for library cards. The city provides other services out of tax funds and then exacts a fee on top of that.
Somehow or other the notion has arisen -- through some kind of artsy-craftsy thinking, apparently -- that to charge a fee for a library card would be tantamount to a Nazi-type book burning rally.
Free libraries came about in this great land through the generosity of Andrew Carnegie, a poor boy who made good and compiled more money than one's imagination can handle.
In the spirit of doing good works, as other fantastically successful men had done (witness John D. Rockefeller et al.), Carnegie provided funds to build and maintain libraries.
Once this seed money was parceled out, cities and towns, large and small throughout America, maintained what Carnegie had wrought.
Thus the idea of the "free" library was born. But, you can plainly see, these libraries were not "free" because Carnegie took actual money that belonged to him and gave it away.
Thus what is free to one man, comes out of another's pocket, hey?
Largo's new library is scheduled to open next June. In building this new edifice, the city is pouring about $23 million into the project. Much of it is borrowed funds, to be paid off out of future Penny for Pinellas funds.
Other money came from the lobbying efforts of one Sandra Mortham, who slid $100,000 into her own change purse in exchange for hornswoggling the powers that be in Tallahassee to fork over $500,000 for the library (20 percent fee -- not bad, hey?).
Even more money is coming from the lagging Library Foundation efforts which had a target of near $2 million but is 25 percent short of that goal. Still, the struggle goes on.
As a frequent and enthusiastic user of the library, I would be the first in line to plunk down some reasonable fee annually for my precious card.
(I am one strong of heart; many years ago, I was in a very large and famous library. Up until that point, being an avid reader, I had plans to read just about everything that existed. As I looked around in that formidable library, my heart sank -- I would never be able to examine, let alone read, all that stuff in 100 lifetimes.)
Now, if you will pardon that sail around the lagoon, I will continue. Yes, I would be more than happy to pay an annual fee. I would say $10 would be reasonable and affordable from the looks of folks I see at the library.
That comes out to be less than 20 cents a week. Think of it.
I have some other suggestions, too, like cleaning all those videos out of the library (library comes from a word meaning "book" -- get it? Books!!).
And the library makes a mistake shelling money out buying books from the junk popular novelists. They have no place in the library. Literature yes; potboilers no.
In the meantime, think about a fee for library cards.
And now, Mama, give me another helping of that deeluscious shoo-fly pie.
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