Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library - And Response (3)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go.

"Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled (i.e. shredded) after each sale due to sheer volume. 

Hundreds of art books, tens of thousands of fiction books, and virtually the entire reference collection have all been "weeded".  It's taken her two years to destroy a collection that it took the library 100 years to amass.

Mary Aleta Word

* * *

        I agree. The library has been ruined.

        Take a walk through the Biography section. Most of the biographies are for pop culture figures or professional athletes. It has definitely been "dumbed down" into something that caters to the "People" magazine crowd.

        Also, I've bought many reference books at the Friends' Sale that are no longer in print.  And, many of those can be (and are) re-sold profitably on sites like Amazon. We are throwing away our community's resources.

        And, there is no system in place to prevent items from being stolen. The  removal of the security system that prevented people from just walking off with books has cost us a fortune.

        Apparently, the mission of the library has degenerated into doing anything that brings people into the building. Does the library have a board? Does anyone involved know what a library should do? 

         It appears that their entire strategy was built around doing anything to make better use of the underused downtown building. My understanding is that, even after several years of Ms. Hill,  the Northgate branch has more volume than the downtown branch.

         Maybe, that big downtown building, with its resident homeless population, is an unnecessary location. Sell the place and invest in more, smaller branches.

Steve Daugherty Sr.

* * *

It is true: the downtown Public Library is changing, as it must. Changing times demand that public institutions change and adapt.

Our family benefits from the new programs and activities being offered at the library. Where else can an elementary school student use a 3D printer? Where else can young people from all over the area gather to play strategy games, engage in learning through art projects, or participate in fairs and expos designed to engage their minds and foster creativity? Why shouldn’t they be able to borrow music and movies in addition to books?

Recently the decision was made to offer a free library membership to every student in the Hamilton County School System. That’s a fantastic initiative that is likely to bring parents back to the library for the first time in years. Our fifth-grader regularly asks to be taken to the library, and he thinks the staff there is smart and cool. His older siblings never had a reason to want to go there.

I applaud the efforts by library staff to bring the institution into the 21st century. Keep up the good work.

Mike Crowder

* * *

I agree with everything Mike says about activities and programs the library offers. We surely need them in order to get school kids more involved in the library, as opposed to our homeless population.

As much as I agree with that, I must totally disagree about the rampant weeding out that can occur in reference or biography sections. We must preserve our history and more importantly, we must preserve our access to history. I hope that in the future when today's ten year olds are approaching 50 or 60, they might want to take the time to look back and see how their grandparents and great grandparents might have lived back in the 50's or 60's. Sometimes Google or Wikipedia will only give you the Cliff Notes version at best.

Look at it this way, if you throw away the biography of Tony Bennett so that you can use that space for the biography of Miley Cyrus, are you really helping out the next generation and making our library better?

As Walter Cronkite said, "Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation."

Herb Montgomery



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