Amazon’s book city #1, Alexandria, VA, may cut library hours: Time for a digital-era national endowment to help ease U.S. libraries’ financial woes?

Rain Approaching the Town SquareWorse, Alexandria City Manager Rashad Young has proposed a $93,454 cut in the library personnel budget despite the harm this could do to working people reliant on libraries to advance themselves through literacy training and in countless other ways. Library officials say they will reduce the schedules of three of the city’s four branches by two hours a week. Talking Books Service hours will go from 35 to 20 a week, and the materials budget for books and other items will decline by $56,000 even though it’s already well off its peak. The decision will come in early May, so any Alexandrians reading this should speak up as soon as possible; go here and look for “FY 2014 Budget Public Input.” Meanwhile don’t forget to check out the talking points document that library supporters have prepared.

Rightly or wrongly—I’d hope that Young is wrong—he may perceive most of us as believing that our tax money could be better spent in other ways.

Why support our own local “Library of Alexandria” to the extent its friends prefer? Just buy your books at Amazon, B&N or elsewhere, right? I’m 100 percent confident those are not Young’s own feelings and that he means well and loathes the hard choices that the city’s fiscal challenges have forced on him, but in my opinion this is still a poor showing for a member of the executive board of the Urban Libraries Council. And more than a few genuine library-haters do feel precisely that way, based on my own virtual encounters with them during the many years I owned and edited TeleRead, a popular site among e-book buffs (the overwhelming majority of them pro-library, thankfully). Who gives a squat about the plebes?

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