Recently, I attended a workshop entitled "W(h)ither the public good?" As I have noted several times in this space, many Colorado libraries (particularly municipal libraries) are in trouble, caught between the pincers of declining sales tax revenue, and a surge in public demand.
Among our speakers were Senator John Evans and Susan Thornton, 8-year mayor of Littleton. The question before them was "what IS the 'public good'?"
I spent a lot of time watching TV as a kid. I mean a LOT of time.
I was the eldest of five kids, and both my parents worked. Our black and white TV, I now understand, was a strategy that succeeded in getting all five of us corralled in the living room for hours at a stretch.
I remember getting up on a Saturday morning at about 5:30, which was when broadcasting began. The show was "The World at War," World War II newsclips. Then, chomping on sugarcoated cereal and cinnamon toast, I stayed glued to the tube till about noon.
Last week, I asked people to let me know what they thought about spending library dollars to stock up on computers in the children's rooms. This was in light of some research that suggested too much exposure to TV and computers before the age of 8 probably wasn't good for anybody.
I got an early surge of folks who strongly argued that computers should be eliminated. But by the end of the week, things had evened out. The general consensus: do what the public wants. And that probably meant, "offer lots of technology."
While we were having dinner last Saturday, the family was talking about the need to adjust our clocks for Daylight Savings Time (or as they say in England, "Summer Time"). My 10 year old son, Perry, asked, "Why do we do that?"
I shrugged. But then I remembered something else, I think from Ayn Rand. "A frown is the beginning of intelligence."
A shrug says, "Beats me," and lets it go. A frown says, "I ... don't know. And it bothers me."