The public sector is not the same as the private. In business, if you move more products, you get more money. In libraries, it doesn't work like that.
We recently took a look at the last five years of one of our main activities: checking out library materials (books, DVDs, CDs, VHS and audiotapes, magazines, etc.). And in the past five years, our business has grown by 124%.
Recently, my wife brought home a fascinating film from the library called "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill."
It told the story of a man, Mark Bittner, who had once tried to start a life as a musician. That hadn't worked out. He wound up in San Francisco, where he spent a lot of time studying various Eastern philosophies, and reading poetry, particularly the works of Gary Snyder.
Some people think the word "literacy" means the attainment of a specific reading level.
They may have heard that literacy is where an elementary student should be at the end of fourth grade. (Fourth grade does indeed appear to be that crucial year when somebody "gets" print, or needs a little extra assistance at just that moment.)
Or they think it means someone can follow newspaper headlines and get the gist of a story. Or maybe they think literacy is what helps someone decipher the instructions on a prescription.
Every so often, someone asks me if libraries are really necessary now that we have Google.
We brought it on ourselves, I think.
There were a lot of librarians, pre-Google, who tried to define our profession solely on the idea of "information." Ask a librarian, and we'll look it up for you!
Then the Internet came along, then Google emerged as the top search engine. And the people who just would never take the time to phone a librarian, or stand in line at a desk to ask something, found Google marvelously convenient.