Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Comparison of libraries to bookstores puzzling

First published in the Times Union: Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I am responding to Albert Paolucci's assertion that we do not need improvements to the Albany Public Library (letter, Dec. 30). I believe his arguments are short-sighted.

Mr. Paolucci states that libraries are not needed because information is available on computers. However, many interesting and authoritative resources are not available on the general Internet because of cost, copyright and other legal issues. Much of the reputable material that is available through Albany Public Library's Web site is there only through the library's paid subscriptions, and is not available through a Google search or other free service. The number of Albany households without a home computer may be as high as 60 percent, but these residents can gain access to online information at the library.

When Mr. Paolucci states that he does not think students use the public library, I wonder when he has last visited his local branch. There is often not a seat available in the children's section of several branches.

The library is busy during the summer and promotes reading through summer reading programs. The library promotes literacy through story times, which are often standing room only. At my neighborhood branch, I see tutors using library resources to provide instruction to schoolchildren, people learning English, adults learning to read and write, and people studying for citizenship exams.

Mr. Paolucci's statement that we do not need libraries because there are bookstores is puzzling. Bookstore owners don't intend for people to visit daily and use their materials for free the way you can at your local library.



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