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Poll: How Often Do You Use The Public Library?

May 6, 2012 Books, Featured 13 Comments

This year the St. Louis Central Library will reopen after a $70 million dollar renovation and the St. Louis County Library is seeking a property tax increase to replace it’s main building and others (story). The library is a great resource we all pay for,  one I know I haven’t used often enough. I’m changing that this year.

Lately I’ve been checking out DVDs from the library for titles I can’t stream on Netflix. I had to update my library card since I hadn’t used it for a while.  Turns out the St. Louis Library requires everyone to update their card after each birthday.

ABOVE: Cabanne Branch at 1106 Union Blvd

With all this investment in our libraries I was wondering how often you use the library. Take the poll in the right sidebar and add any comments below.

– Steve Patterson




Currently there are "13 comments" on this Article:

  1. Eric says:

    The last time I used a public library was a year ago – to check my email when my home network stopped working. Nowadays, news and video are better delivered by internet, and even books are moving in that direction (Kindle etc.). The last few times I’ve been in a public library, I get the impression it’s as much an after school babysitting service as an actual source for information. I’ve used a university library to find specialized professional books, but few public libraries are deep enough to serve that purpose.

  2. hepdoll says:

    I use the library a lot and I think they are still a hugely important resource for the entire community. I can request books through their website and I get an email when they’re ready to pick up. I can check out audiobooks and ebooks for my Kindle or other ereader entirely from their website, delivered over the Internet without even leaving home. Because these services are free, I can get my hands on so many more books than if I had to buy each one outright. The libraries are doing a good job turning their buildings into nice public gathering spaces and free alternatives to coffeeshops, and I really enjoy taking my laptop there when I need a place to work. Libraries still play a very important role in our community and as long as they continue to evolve with our desires and needs, they’ll only get more useful and I hope they’ll be around for a long, long time!

  3. JZ71 says:

    Explain “use”.  I rarely visit one their physical branches, but I regularly use their online resources, particularly to research city ordinances:  http://www.slpl.lib.mo.us/cco/

  4. GMichaud says:

    I visit Carpenter Library regularly and it is usually full of patrons. I go to other branches less often but find them well used by patrons also. I’m not sure how Eric can make sweeping generalizations about the library when he says he never goes to the library. Sounds like Fox and Friends and their fact free statements.

    • Eric says:

      If you’re talking about my babysitting line, I made clear that it was based on a few trips, not an exhaustive study of all libraries.
      As for the professional books, believe me, I’ve tried and local libraries don’t even come close. At least in my field.

      Many US cities have stunning libraries (NY, Boston, Philadelphia to name a few I know of, not just St Louis), but in the internet age I don’t think the architectural investment is in proportion to the institution’s value. It was when they were built, though.

  5. imran says:

    I drive by the pictured branch twice a day and find it to be visually stunning every time. One of these days I will stop my car and actually go inside. 🙂

  6. JZ71 says:

    My original question (define “use”) is one that can’t be just dimissed.  The question of what a library “is” is much like the question of what a church “is” (is it the building or is it the people and the theology)?  Libraries, at their heart, are repositories of knowledge and information.  Forty years ago, pre-internet, they served a much different role than the one they serve today.  Information is no longer only available in hard-copy form – books, magazines, microfilm and microfiche – and how we access information is different – I use Google a whole lot more than I use any library.  Should libraries remain primarily gateways or repositories?  Have their physical needs and demands changed?  We no longer need or use card catalogs or many encyclopedic resources, we just go online.  More and more data is migrating from hard-copy to electronic.  Maybe our local library needs can be better met with smaller operations and an enhanced online presence.

    I get the urban design argument for preserving libraries as a positive, local, governmental presence in many neighborhoods.  I appreciate their architecture and their dedicated staff members.  The question simply boils down to one of economics.  Either libraries need to evolve (as many are) to meet changing times, or they need to be scaled back (and potentially closed) IF they become as archaic as the buggy whip, the watering trough, the manual typewriter or the rotary telephone.  Just because they’re currently a part of the historic landscape doesn’t guarantee their future.

  7. Christian says:

    I go to the library, Buder, every other week and check out 5-6 books-novels, mysteries, historical fiction, history. Of all the beautiful libraries in the City of St. Louis, Buder isn’t part of the club, but dang is that place busy! You can be eighth or ninth in line to check out on a beautiful Saturday or Sunday afternoon. It’s amazing. Plus using the web site and borrowing from other branches is a snap.

    To paraphrase Maurice Sendak, an e-book is NOT a book.

  8. Wqcuncleden says:

    I’m way late in commenting , I know, but I just wish they would stay open late on Friday and Saturday nights.  Too many lazy librarians that don’t want to work those hours I guess.

  9. Moe says:

    @Wqcuncleden…..Your comment is way off base and uncalled for.  The librarians I have met have been kind hearted and hard working.  I don’t know what you call open late but most people do not spend Friday or Saturday nights at a library so why should they stay open if there is no demand?   Why not check out one of the local University libraries….many stay open round the clock or head to the book store.  Most of the libraries are open till 7pm during the week, 6 pm on the weekends.  God forbid you adjust your schedule to fit in those hours, but no, it’s easier to call them lazy, which they are not.

  10. Cheryl says:

    Of course librarians are hard working and great assets and to call them lazy is way off-base. However, I do think longer Friday and weekend hours would get a lot of use.  Maybe the library could consider shifting some week day  evening hours to weekends. 


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