Government and Libraries

So while I’m waiting on the DVR to time-delay Secret Life enough so that I can skip the commercials (oh how I love DVR!), I thought I’d relay my thoughts on an interesting conversation I’m having on twitter. For any that want to go there to see it, I am @swgalibertarian, and the person this convo is with is @daltonsbriefs

Dalton is talking about privatizing libraries. Evidently Indiana is considering this as a way for the state to save money during the budget crunch. As many of y’all know, I am a very avid reader. I hit 53 books last year and I’ve already read 6 this year without even really trying. (These 6 are the ‘Southern Vampire Mysteries’ that the HBO series TrueBlood is loosely based on.) As a teenager, I was forced to stay at the local Boys and Girls club during the day for a few summers, and this particular club was on the same block as the main library in Cartersville – so I wound up spending quite a bit of time there. As I grew older, I tended to buy more and more of my own books, mainly because libraries were never overly convenient and typically I find the selection of authors I am interested in to be somewhat lacking. To the point now that I probably have at least $1K wrapped up in paperback books – something like 150-200 books, mostly bought for around $7 each.

Anyways, I tend to be a very strong supporter of libraries in general, as I believe that they serve to allow everyone the ability to read, and reading truly is critical in society. I believe that no books should be banned from the public libraries for any reason, and that the local library should strive to have as many books and as diverse a selection as possible. I also believe that the library should be open as much as possible to allow people to come in even after work or on the weekends. No bankers’ hours here. I also believe that anyone should be allowed access to the library, no matter the race/creed/sexuality/ideology/financial level/etc.

Because of this, I tend to be leery of privatization of public libraries. IF, however, libraries can be privatized yet still allow the same level of access to everyone with possibly even more hours open and an even larger selection, I could be convinced to be for it. And since it would be one less thing for government to have its hands in, it could actually be a very good thing.

And actually, without government being involved, maybe there wouldn’t be so many attempts at book banning, which would be a good thing.

So what do y’all think? Essentially a government function? Essential government function? Can they be privatized? Should they be?

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