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California Library's Plan: Get Rid of Books 197

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-crazy-enough-to-wait-what dept.
HansonMB writes "Facing the likelihood of state budget cuts that would eliminate $15 million for library and reading programs – and, apparently, create a future in which people no longer read things on paper – the city of Newport Beach is considering turning its first library into a community center that would host all the same amenities – except for the books." The library has been inundated with hate-mail as people around the country have learned of their idea, and they hastened to clarify that no final decision has been made; carting books in as needed from other locations was always part of the plan. Whether or not they go through with it, efforts are underway elsewhere to create a massive, public digital library, spurred in part by the recent ruling against Google Books.
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California Library's Plan: Get Rid of Books

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  • I bet they can raise money by selling all their books on eBay (or some such site) and they won't have to worry about this shit anymore. That'll show those kids!
  • There's a great fictional story about this- pick up a copy of Vinge's 'Rainbows End' at your local libr... oops.

    • by Daetrin (576516) on Monday April 04, 2011 @07:19PM (#35715212)

      There's a great fictional story about this- pick up a copy of Vinge's 'Rainbows End' at your local libr... oops.

      Except in that case, if i remember correctly at least, the library was giving into bribes from a megacorp that wanted to (destructively) digitize the books as part of their business plan. So it was due to corporate greed and stupidity.

      In this case the public doesn't want to pay taxes to fund the library, but they get outraged when the library tries to make cuts to deal with the reduced amount of funding. So it's due to public greed and stupidity.

      • by retchdog (1319261) on Monday April 04, 2011 @07:26PM (#35715268) Journal

        well, it's probably two different publics, with little overlap...

      • by RajivSLK (398494) on Monday April 04, 2011 @07:59PM (#35715518)
        There is no single "public". Some people don't want to pay for the library other people love the library and are outraged. Sounds a little less irrational that way.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lgw (121541)

        The public doesn't want to pay taxes to fund 6-figure public sector salaries and pensions, and the people making that pay decide to cut libraries and schools instead of their own pay (shocking, I know - but to give some excuse, at the state level the constitution requires pensions be funded first), and the public is outraged.

        Cali is doomed anyhow - we may be the pioneer of state bankruptcy before much longer here, and many local governments are in crisis already (as the state's ability to bail out local gov

        • by kinkozmasta (1140561) on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:09PM (#35716000)

          The public doesn't want to pay taxes to fund 6-figure public sector salaries and pensions, and the people making that pay decide to cut libraries and schools instead of their own pay

          That maybe true, but the public is grossly misinformed if they think there are many public sector workers making those kinds of salaries. The average salary of a local public library librarian was $47,940 in 2008, for example. http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos068.htm [bls.gov]

          (shocking, I know - but to give some excuse, at the state level the constitution requires pensions be funded first), and the public is outraged.

          And why shouldn't pensions be funded first? They are nothing more than deferred payment of a worker's salary. Not paying a paying the pension is basically saying "We'll give you $100, $80 now and $20 later, to do x amount of work." Then after the work is done only paying them $80. I can't imagine any other scenario where that would be fair or legal.

          Cali is doomed anyhow - we may be the pioneer of state bankruptcy before much longer here, and many local governments are in crisis already (as the state's ability to bail out local governments is quite limited), and things like keeping the streeghlights on, the roads patches, and the trees clear of the power lines are fading before the all-consuming pension costs.

          Employee salaries and benefits only make up about 10% of the state budget [ca.gov] ($7B salaries + $3.4B benefits) (p.177). This can hardly be blamed for the budget woes of California. Much more serious are Prop 13 and 2/3 majority needed for the state senate to pass any tax increases.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:36PM (#35716156)

            If I only had mod points - being married to a librarian, I can only say this: librarians are civil servants who look to better our society by helping people obtain and use information. If the rest of us should only be so luck to find ourselves doing something half as laudable.

            • by DinDaddy (1168147)

              No need for mod points. Pretty sure GGP is NOT talking about librarians in referencing 6 figure salaries, but rather prison guards and other unions who have powerful lobbies, which plainly libraries do not.

          • by Rhinobird (151521)

            I thought Cali's problem wasn't the current budget, but the huge debt they've accumulated, and have no way of paying.

            (op-ed from about a year ago) http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/06/opinion/la-oe-crane6-2010apr06 [latimes.com]

          • by magarity (164372)

            Employee salaries and benefits only make up about 10% of the state budget ($7B salaries + $3.4B benefits) (p.177). This can hardly be blamed for the budget woes of California. Much more serious are Prop 13 and 2/3 majority needed for the state senate to pass any tax increases.

            That number for salaries is for state employees, not all employees of the lower government levels. There is $30B for education and the biggest expense in education is salaries but teachers are employees of local school districts and universities. Something like 90% of a typical school district's expenses are salaries. Other categories are similar; a lot of the money goes to localities where they go for local government employees' salaries.

          • by PCM2 (4486)

            Employee salaries and benefits only make up about 10% of the state budget [ca.gov] ($7B salaries + $3.4B benefits)

            That's only counting the payroll expenditures that come out of the General Fund. Total state expenditure on payroll is about $23.6 billion, [scribd.com] or just less than a third of the total resources available for 2010-2011. The percentage of General Fund is also closer to 12 percent.

            Worth noting, though, that if you reduced state employee compensation to zero it still wouldn't make up for the budget shortfall.

          • by jgc7 (910200)

            And why shouldn't pensions be funded first? They are nothing more than deferred payment of a worker's salary. Not paying a paying the pension is basically saying "We'll give you $100, $80 now and $20 later, to do x amount of work." Then after the work is done only paying them $80. I can't imagine any other scenario where that would be fair or legal.

            I would fully agree with you if state employees were all on a defined contribution plan, but they are on defined benefit plans. It is like more like, we will set aside $20 for your future compensation today, but if you get a bunch of raises, live longer than expected, investments underperform, you are entitled to an automatic retroactive modification to that $20 for work you did years ago. I can't imagine a scenario where a sane person would agree to such terms.

            • by hey! (33014)

              Still doesn't matter. The future payments were part of the deal, no matter how unfavorable the structuring of those payments are. It's not like the employees are playing a fast one here, it was all down in black and white for anyone who bothered to look ahead into the future.

              You couldn't walk away from a business deal where you agreed to pay 800K$ up front and later annual payments over some indefinite period by saying, "Yeah, but I didn't do the math properly and I'm paying more than I thought I would,"

          • by lgw (121541)

            It's not the librarians making 6 figures, it's the people deciding to screw the librarians. Not sure why you'd think I was saying that the librarians were screwing themselves?

          • we may be the pioneer of state bankruptcy before much longer here

            California is always first into everything, no matter how stupid ($3 billion for stem cell research? why not, just add it to our tab), so why should bankruptcy be any different. I'm a California resident and personally, I would be the first to celebrate a California bankruptcy. It would be the final and indisputable proof of stupid policies and gross mismanagement, mostly from the left I might add, that took a once prosperous and well run state and flushed it completely down the toilet. In another decade, C

          • by thomst (1640045)

            The public doesn't want to pay taxes to fund 6-figure public sector salaries and pensions, and the people making that pay decide to cut libraries and schools instead of their own pay

            That maybe true, but the public is grossly misinformed if they think there are many public sector workers making those kinds of salaries. The average salary of a local public library librarian was $47,940 in 2008, for example. http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos068.htm [bls.gov]

            Lgw's point that "the people making that pay" (i.e. - 6-figure salaries) in California are the ones making decisions to cut libraries is only somewhat correct. Those decisions about library funding are typically made at the City Council and County Supervisor level. In a handful of big cities, councilors can make 6 figures, but the vast majority of City Council members make far less than that. Members of the Board of Supervisors of populous counties do make 6 figures, but there are counties (Mariposa, where

            • And the U.S. Constitution forbids states to go bankrupt

              Which Article of the Constitution forbids States to go bankrupt? Just did a quick skim, and didn't see anything that stood out.

              • by thomst (1640045)

                And the U.S. Constitution forbids states to go bankrupt

                Which Article of the Constitution forbids States to go bankrupt? Just did a quick skim, and didn't see anything that stood out.

                Article 1, Section 8, reserves to Congress the exclusive power to enact "uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States". Congress has, at various times, enacted national bankruptcy laws (which is why there are no state bankruptcy courts - only a Federal judge can hear bankruptcy cases), the latest of which, superceding the Nelson Act of 1898, is the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978, codified as Title 11 of the U.S. Code. Title 11(101)(27) specifically defines states as "governmental

          • by fuzznutz (789413)
            Now don't be confusing our loud mouthed, angry Tea Partier with facts. You'll give him a headache.

            We have the same trouble in Ohio. I am astonished at how many simpletons, even those not associated with the Tea Party, have swallowed the party line. When you explain how things actually work, I always see that "oh!" look on their faces, followed by a recognition that they have been played. I don't know if it is more sad, or disgusting...
        • by samweber (71605)

          The public doesn't want to pay taxes to fund 6-figure public sector salaries and pensions, and the people making that pay decide to cut libraries and schools instead of their own pay

          Indeed, 6-figure public salaries are an outrage! Kids graduating college with MBAs earn 6-figure salaries in their first jobs, and how DARE police chiefs, city planners and those people responsible for the safety and well-being of entire cities even consider themselves to be worth even a small fraction of the worth of an 22-year-old with an MBA! It is not enough that public employees are paid significantly less than their corporate counterparts, but they should be publicly flogged, each and every day, to

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday April 04, 2011 @10:15PM (#35716352) Homepage Journal

          The public doesn't want to pay taxes to fund 6-figure public sector salaries and pensions

          I know. It's those greedy, bottom-feeding librarians, and schoolteachers and cops and firemen and garbage collectors who have brought this great nation to its knees.

          We've got to stop those people before they wipe out the good common folk, who work for a living and pay their taxes, like the hedge fund managers and investment bankers.

          the all-consuming pension costs

          Public employee pensions make up an average 2-3% of state budgets nationwide.

          Since it's clear that your anger at having to trim the tree on your own goddamn property, along with your greed and stupidity, lgw, have so corrupted your thinking that you're unable to accept the fact that the average public employee makes about $65k and the average employee nationwide about $43k. But see, private employees tend to skew much more to the blue collar. You've got to average in all those people working at Wal-Mart and McDonalds for minimum wage, whereas most public employees are the educated, blue collar variety.

          When you figure in level of education, there really isn't a discrepancy between public and private employees. It's been fabricated to make people like you, who lack the analytic ability to understand why you should be worrying about why your company has screwed you out of a pension instead of why someone else has managed to keep their pension (hint: unions are good for workers), get all pissed off and shake your fist at the teevee and completely miss the reason why your income and benefits and working conditions continue to deteriorate to the point that if you had a wife she's probably wishing she married that nice guy who became a lawyer with a nice practice (and who was a much better lay). And most important, you'll forget who you really ought to be blaming in this whole mess.

          People like you, who get played like violins by the people who are screwing you right into the ground and end up blaming everyone who has got something that you don't, disgust me. The only thing that attenuates my disgust is the knowledge that you have to live with your impotent anger like bad case of the piles.

          Just don't fuck up our country any more. OK? I don't want my kid to have to grow up in a third-world shithole because people like you were pissed off that some college professor (yes, they're counted as "public employees") gets a six figure salary.

          • by lgw (121541)

            Sorry, I'm not stupid enough to own property in CA, so your rant was mis-aimed. :p

            Anyhow, when I say the people with 6-figure incomes making the decisions are screwing the librarians to keep their own pay high, how can you read that as saying the librarians are overpaid?

            Oddly enough, I've lived in Texas, and they had roads and schools and libraries, and no income tax, and I've lived in Florida, and they had roads and schools and libraries, and no income tax, and now I'm here in CA, and they have a massive

            • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

              Oddly enough, I've lived in Texas, and they had roads and schools and libraries

              And education at the bottom of the list. And from what I hear, they still have more than $20billion in budget deficits.

              Apparently, "competence in governing" is not what you think.

              California on its worst day is better than Texas will ever be. Ever compare the incomes in Texas to those in California?

              • by lgw (121541)

                California on its worst day is better than Texas will ever be.

                I will never give any credibility to anything you write ever again. Don't mess with Texas, hippie.

            • by HungWeiLo (250320)

              No income tax, but very high property taxes. A $300k house will get you a tax bill between $7,000 - $10,000 annually.

              You'll pay one way or another.

        • The public doesn't want to pay taxes to fund 6-figure public sector salaries and pensions, and the people making that pay decide to cut libraries and schools instead of their own pay (shocking, I know - but to give some excuse, at the state level the constitution requires pensions be funded first), and the public is outraged.

          This is the stuff I like: "Walker gives lobbyist's college dropout son an $81,000-a-year job - With no degree and little expertise, Wisconsin Governor’s appointee pulls in big bucks" http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/04/with-no-degree-and-little-expertise-wisconsin-governors-appointee-pulls-in-big-bucks/ [rawstory.com]

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          Actually the greed driven stupidity *by the rich and greedy) was a result of not being allowed to increase taxes in line with inflation which resulted in continuous struggles to pay for existing services (requires super majorities).

          One solution recently tried was to legalised marijuana and tax it but apparently it was blocked by drug dealers, and the alcohol and tobacco industry.

          The biggest inefficiency with US government at all levels is of course contracting everything to private industry no matter h

        • by tibit (1762298)

          It seems that bankruptcy is no cure for broke states [manhattan-institute.org]:

          [...]states like New York run up “their” debt indirectly. They issue bonds through tens of thousands of separate legal entities. New York “state” doesn’t owe all of that $78.4 billion in debt -- it owes only $3.5 billion in “general-obligation” debt. [...] Who owes the rest? The MTA, the Dormitory Authority, the Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority and so on. [...] So, if we let New York go “bankrupt,” does that mean that the TFA should go bankrupt? How ’bout the MTA? Should they all go bankrupt? Should a judge be able to take a big pile of money that the MTA, as a corporation working on behalf of the state, has committed to transit retirees and give it to, say, Dormitory Authority bondholders?

      • by richlv (778496)

        it would be kinda cool if we had some technology to distribute books and other content like that to people without having massive expenses for maintaining physical storages and systems for lending them. of course, we could not reach whole population at first, but we could at least serve part in that way, thus significantly reducing the costs to the society.

        while it might reduce the income for some authors, we are seeing a huge growth in content provided with no room of growth for demand for it, so it would

    • by antdude (79039)

      And Reading Rainbow. Oh wait, it ended a while ago. :(

      • by slick7 (1703596)

        And Reading Rainbow. Oh wait, it ended a while ago. :(

        Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficial. – Justice Louis Brandeis
        The first book I would recommend is "1984" and the second "Fahrenheit 451". when the power goes out, then what?

    • by Tackhead (54550)

      There's a great fictional story about this- pick up a copy of Vinge's 'Rainbows End' at your local libr... oops.

      We want our floor space!
      We want our library!
      And most of all, we want our REAL books! [google.com]

      (That last demand makes for an even more ironic post, precisely because the demand doesn't quite fit with having to link the Hacekians' Librareome in order for the joke to make any sense. But that's totally Scoochi. Scoochi is large; it contains multitudes; gotta catch 'em all!)

    • by Phoghat (1288088)
      "Rainbow's End" is available digitally at a number of sites. Library my lily white ass.
  • "We'll ensure that everything which is not important in a library is preserved!"
  • Isn't removing sources of learning the best way to win votes? That way the public will have no idea they are being brainwashed.

    • It certainly worked with the teabaggers. Dumb as fucking stumps.

  • If there are no books on paper how will we get informaion after the Zombie Apocalypse?
  • Late last century Stallman predicted as much:
    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html [gnu.org]

    > ... there was a time when anyone could go to the library and read journal articles, and even books, without having to pay....

    • by ghmh (73679)
      Earlier last century Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell and many others also predicted as much.
      • by gmhowell (26755)

        Earlier last century Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell and many others also predicted as much.

        Yeah, but did they eat toe cheese on camera?

    • by OneAhead (1495535)
      Now that I had a closer look at it, this is actually a bit of an insidious April's fool - based on true facts, only greatly exaggerated (and somewhat twisted). I'm not even sure it's not an inadvertent slip-up in typical "sloppy journalism" style. In which case I would recommend the journalists involved to try to save their face by pretending it was an April's fool.
  • I don't really see why libraries are holding onto actual books these days anyway. Seems like the best thing to do would be get rid of the paper, make more room for public readings and other events that happen at libraries and then have the entire book library all digital in PDF and ePub formats for each book. That way you could read whatever you want on whatever device you have.

    • by l0ungeb0y (442022)

      Maybe because paper books aren't surrounded by the draconion rights restrictions that either outright prevent sharing and lending, or at best severely limit the ability to share/lend that we see with electronic publications.

    • Libraries aren't just repositories for stacks of John Grisham novels that were printed into the millions. There are these things called private collections. Go to largest public library in your area and dig around in their basement. If you are into history, especially local history, there are things there that will blow your mind. Diaries, letters, old periodicals from long ago wars, all of that and much more, without watermarks or DRM; the original thing, on the original print. This is what gets lost and v

      • This is not to mention documents on microfilm and/or microfiche and such. I'm 60 years old and over my life have spent a lot of time in libraries. Many libraries are excellent history repositories, treasure troves of information and history.
    • by CompMD (522020)

      I have books from the 1700s in perfect condition, and I have read them. Show me a reader device that will be around in 300 years and functioning, or an ebook file that will be in a format we can read in 300 years.

  • I think this decision was an unfortunate one. I do think the terms of the settlement should have been challenged, but striking it entirely puts Google Books in jeopardy. Lest anyone forget, what Google has managed to do is to produce a reasonably accurate electronic library of millions of books, many of which do not exist in any other digital collection, even that of the publishers (and some publishers no longer exist). This is a vastly valuable asset. This ruling basically sends us back to the drawing boar

    • I'd rather have a huge pirated collection of scanned books distributed underground for free to anyone than an approved digitized collection of books offered to the public only by corporations.

      Maybe I'm funny that way, but when it comes to preserving the knowledge of mankind for future generations, I don't believe petty laws and economic gamesmanship should matter. Let people "pirate" away, and 500 years from now, the people who live *then* can decide if they approve of what our generation did or not.

  • So they're planning to save money by doing a (probably expensive) renovation and, I suppose, pay for it by selling their existing books? They must have an amazing collection of rare manuscripts for that to make sense. Or, more likely, some scumbags are using the reduced budget as an excuse to spend more money.

  • by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Monday April 04, 2011 @07:39PM (#35715356)

    From TFA:
    the city's Balboa branch - which "accounts for about six percent of the 1.3 million visitors that utilize Newport Beach Public Libraries each year" - is underutilized and "could be changed to better fit the community's needs."

    "patrons could 'order' books from the large Central Library (located about four miles away)"

    This isn't about closing the only library in town. This is about cutting the cost of maintaining a branch that a small percentage of people use by not buying books for that branch.

    As much as I hate the idea of libraries losing their funding, I can't honestly say I would be against this if I lived there. It's about 3 miles from my house to the nearest public library and it isn't a difficult trip. It's what most people I know would consider to be within walking distance.

  • will they keep the DVD movies and VHS tapes?

  • The public face of a library, the face that gives it value to the average taxpayer, is the lending of videos, music, and books. OTOH, the mision of a library is education and highly trained librarians is what makes that happen. The librarian acquires resources, answers questions, and points patrons to where they can get information. For instance, I know many a sucessful business person who main resource is the local library. They got an effective BBA for nothing other than time spent reading in the libr
    • There's got to be a way by hybridizing the two entities plus Print On Demand. Mashing up several posts, don't ship books anywhere (except Ex Libris sales), print a new one & count it as an aquisition. Don't wait for a book to be returned.Who cares? Send the guy a bill for purchase (Redbox model). It's a "guaranteed sale" because the person went to the trouble to "check it out". If he wakes up and doesn't want to purchase it, there's your return. Replacement charge = $5 for the in stock copy - but only

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Many people have e-readers, probably way over 1 in 10 americans have one.

      I've seen two. I live in a moderately large city and have a lot of tech oriented friends. One friend owns a nook, another a kindle. That's it. In the closest B&N, people pick up the nooks and look at them, but they don't seem to be buying them. Probably 1 in 1000 americans or fewer own e-readers (unless you include computers and smartphones).

      If libraries move in, a cheap e-paper reader can be sold by the library for $50.

      $50? Compared to free library cards? Poor families can't afford $250 for an initial expense and $50 per year for every lost/broken/stolen library e-reader.

  • I'm sure this will seem like a great idea... until the power goes out. I would think that the residents of a state subjected to power outages for profit not too long ago might be a bit more careful about increasing their reliance upon electric current for basic information accessibility.

    If we don't replace fossil fuel generation with something more sustainable before peak extraction hits, we are all going to be knocked back to the Paper Age pretty fast. Say what you will about dead trees - they don't requir

  • Newport != poor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wickerprints (1094741) on Monday April 04, 2011 @08:26PM (#35715712)

    I'm sorry, but anyone who lives in LA knows that Newport Beach is not exactly "poor" or "cash-strapped" by any stretch of the imagination. It's a VERY affluent city, although being in the traditionally Republican stronghold of Orange County, maybe the taxpayers aren't willing to look under their suede leather sofa cushions to fund basic public services. This smells more like a scheme to do something trendy, rather than some sincere attempt to reduce spending.

    • by KalvinB (205500)

      Perhaps it's a scheme to extort tax payers by cutting essentials rather than waste to convince the population they need to pay more in taxes.

  • (Oblig). Get rid of the books. They just make people depressed. And paintings. And music. And Windows (the ones you open).
  • There's always money in the banana stand ;)

  • In Newport Beach, the library receives roughly $318,000 in state funding (source http://articles.dailypilot.com/2011-01-14/news/tn-dpt-0115-library-20110114_1_library-budget-newport-library-library-funding [dailypilot.com] ). I can't open the Newport Beach budget documents at the moment, but recently the city referred referred to $132,500 cut in library funding as a "2% reduction" in the library's budget (source http://www.newportbeachca.gov/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=4738 [newportbeachca.gov] ).

    So by my count the library's facing le

  • From TFA: "Since no one else would be able to obtain a license to those [orphan] books, Google would have a de facto monopoly on millions of texts."

    I can't believe that this FUD persists 6 years after the lawsuit began it. In fact, anyone could have started their own project at any time and scanned those books. There was never anything Google could have done to stop them. Google's project wasn't a monopoly, it was just first.

  • Why now? Why not in 2002? Why not in 2005? Why not in 2008?

    From TFA: "Mr. Keller, a member of the committee, said the project "is coming late to the party." . . . "There is no practical plan for getting it started.""

    All the new ruling has done is to set "the party" back 9+ years.

  • Helluva lot easier to alter the 'truth' in a database than in millions of dead trees.

    The phrase 'Separation of Church and State' not found.
  • This is actually not a bad idea

    Look, I am a HUGE book fan, I love the feel of paper in my hand, the sound of the pages turning, the musky smell of paper. But lets think about this for a minute.

    The public library system has always worked as a loss. It uses taxpayer money to fund something that is sadly appealing to less and less Americans. Shoot, I haven't been to my library in years - not when I can buy books used for a buck off of Amazon or my local resale bookstore.

    I do think that libraries are necessary

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