Saturday, April 21, 2018
News Roundup

Visit proves there's still a place for public libraries

I bet you've wondered — as I certainly have — how long public libraries can hang on.

When will computers and digital information become so cheap and universal — as democratic as libraries ever were — that paper-on-ink books go extinct? When will the expensive and substantial buildings that house these books go down with them?

It has to happen, right?

So is it anywhere close to happening now?

Yes, I know it's probably too early to ask, and I wouldn't bother if not for the finances of the Hernando County Public Library System.

The system has run through most of the state grant money that helped it get through recent lean years and is now facing a budget gap of $1.7 million.

So I went to the main library in Brooksville on Monday evening to find out who, exactly, still uses libraries.

Being an early e-reader convert for both buying and borrowing books, I was surprised to find that even after a heavy rain, most of the computer terminals were being used; even more surprising, at least a half-dozen patrons browsed the shelves.

One of them, Arline Fernandez, 67, a visitor from Inverness, said libraries are irreplaceable, not just for the books they house, but also as "a place where you can concentrate."

Jeff Doan, a 52-year-old welder, said he dropped his cable television and Internet connection because he was fed up with paying for the privilege of watching shows packed with commercials.

Though he's an avid reader, he said, on Monday he picked out a DVD.

"This is my TV now," he said.

Norm Cartwright, who gathered a stack of mysteries to add to the even larger stack of books selected by his wife, Brentcie, said he just prefers printed pages to screens.

"I have a cellphone not a smartphone," said Cartwright, 63, a retired Brooksville Police sergeant. "It would probably be smarter than I am."

Crystal Wentz, 19, is unemployed and wants to go to college, though she isn't sure what she wants to study and, for now, keeps her mind busy by reading thrillers.

"I come in just about every day," she said.

She doesn't have Internet access at home and neither, presumably, do many of the regular computer users at the library.

It makes me think that while user fees may be appropriate for parks, they aren't for libraries. The right to information is too basic, and the population of users, I suspect, is disproportionately poor.

But not all of them are. Nor are they all technological dinosaurs. Otherwise there wouldn't be so many of them.

The number of annual visitors to county libraries has remained steady in recent years at more than 400,000, said library services manager Adam Brooks.

So has the number of active cardholders — about 90,000, or more than half of all county residents.

One more local indication that libraries are still valued: A recent poll of Hernando residents showed that 41 percent ranked them as one of the county's most important services — a score slightly higher than for parks and only a little bit lower than for garbage collection.

Because I see the sales of printed books and newspapers as linked, I keep a close eye on them.

I remember a co-worker who liked to tell me that the Times would be a strictly online publication in five years. That was just about five years ago, and since then the circulation of our Sunday print edition has fallen only slightly.

So it is with book publishing. E-book sales have climbed at a stunning rate since 2008, but in 2012 they still accounted for only 20 percent of publishers' revenue.

So, libraries aren't going anywhere, not for a while, and neither is our responsibility to pay for them.

Print, thank goodness, ain't dead yet.

Comments
Baseball: Bulls edge Knights to even series

Baseball: Bulls edge Knights to even series

After a two-hour weather delay Saturday evening at USF, the remote local threat of lightning finally dissipated.The postseason intensity never did.For the second consecutive night, the UCF-USF baseball series delivered, this time with the Bulls (25-1...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe a path for wildlife across Interstate 4

Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe a path for wildlife across Interstate 4

The original Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition in 2012 was inspired by the how the Florida black bear roamed — and the space it needed to do so successfully. In 2010, expedition team member Joe Guthrie conducted research through the University of ...
Published: 04/22/18
Athletics’ Sean Manaea no-hits Red Sox

Athletics’ Sean Manaea no-hits Red Sox

OAKLAND, Calif. – Sean Manaea watched as Marcus Semien fired a ball from short to second baseman Jed Lowrie, turned around, and jumped into the arms of catcher Jonathan Lucroy. History was made at the Coliseum.Manaea no-hit the Red Sox on ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

BOSTON — Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk scored 1:19 apart in the second period, and then the Maple Leafs killed off a 5-on-3 and three more power plays in a row to beat the Bruins 4-3 in Game 5 on Saturday night and avoid playoff eliminatio...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 10-1 Saturday win over Twins

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 10-1 Saturday win over Twins

* Is it time to take the leap and believe this is the real Blake Snell? He talked a good game this spring and pitched well in his debut, but that rough second outing raised old doubts. But a good outing in Chicago and two dominant ones on the homesta...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays Tales: How low can this team go compared to those Devil Rays days?

Rays Tales: How low can this team go compared to those Devil Rays days?

When the Rays, in the opening weekend of their 20th anniversary celebration season, brought back and honored the inaugural 1998 Devil Rays squad, it got us thinking unexpected thoughts, such as which was a better team:The first one, or the current on...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays Journal: Team effort pays off in 10-1 win over Twins

Rays Journal: Team effort pays off in 10-1 win over Twins

ST. PETERSBURG – Let's be clear here, the Rays still have a long way to go, and a lot of ground to make up.But seeing them play like they did Saturday in beating the Twins 10-1, putting on a solid all-around show in cobbling their first three-g...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

TAMPA — It was a couple of days after the Lightning beat the Bruins at home late in the regular season when associate coach Rick Bowness talked about how the defensive effort used in that shutout victory was the one the Lightning would need in ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays will go forth with four starters

Rays will go forth with four starters

ST. PETERSBURG — Three weeks was enough for the Rays to officially ditch their three-man rotation plan.Starting Sunday, they will go forth with Yonny Chirinos as their fourth starter.Which is a five-star idea.The flaws in the three-man plan ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rookie? Lightning D Mikhail Sergachev’s playing like a seasoned pro

Rookie? Lightning D Mikhail Sergachev’s playing like a seasoned pro

TAMPA — Pardon Mikhail Sergachev if he isn't so good at one of hockey's greatest traditions. After all, growing a Stanley Cup playoff beard isn't easy when you're still just a teenager.As he stood in the Lightning locker room Saturday evening w...
Updated: 5 hours ago