Libraries need to enter the digital age
by Anthony Stasi
Jul 10, 2013 | 11340 views | 0 0 comments | 611 611 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In the July issue of Governing Magazine, a public policy publication, Dylan Scott writes about Jamie LaRue, a man who is trying to change how libraries work in Colorado.

Because publishers are trying desperately to keep e-books away from libraries, LaRue is hoping to develop a relationship through e-reading devices that connects libraries to those who can self-publish important books. In other words, he wants to hit the publishers back a little and give readers at his libraries more information.

Keeping libraries open has become a big issue in the five boroughs. Maybe, through what we see in other states, we can limit library hours and still make books available to people.

New York City has more pull with publishers than smaller towns in states like Colorado. The major publishers are in New York, and our market for their books is bigger.

Our city officials should be able to broker a deal where e-books can be temporarily used by library members. The future of our libraries is not in danger, but has to change to a more electronic environment. We never want to lose the actual brick-and-mortar library. But if we have to save money, we should find a way to keep the books available in some other form.

Lastly, and more importantly, there has to be a way to get free e-readers to public school students. I have written about this before. If we can get big discounts on e-readers for public school students, it would be giant leap forward.

This is the kind of innovation that will lift our most troubled schools out of despair. If we can expose students to all of the books that college students can get – and without them having to enter another drab public building – we could expose students to things that are bigger and better.

This is why we have a government: to think ahead and improve. If we are going to fix our beleaguered public school system, part of the answer has to be that we utilize the wonderful alternatives out there.

Heard Around Town

What do rank-and-file Republicans think of John Catsimatidis as their potential nominee for mayor?

Some of the more established are still not won over. Others, however, seem to be okay with the idea of an entrepreneurial candidacy. They feel it has won before (see Michael Bloomberg in 2001, 2005, 2009) and perhaps it can happen again.

What some may have forgotten, however, was that it was hard for Bloomberg to win in 2001. He spent a lot of money, he was running against an unlikable opponent, and he still barely won.

Catsimatidis, should he be the nominee, would face the same uphill battle as Bloomberg. Catsimatidis, to his credit, seems to realize that he is not Bloomberg. He is running ads telling people that he is just like them, highlighting his middle-class background.

Appealing to the common middle-class commuting New Yorker is a good idea for the GOP, which is in serious need of brand repair.

Although there is a criticism of the Catsimatidis candidacy from within the Republican Party, there is also some quiet positive chatter. Some feel that Catsimatidis’ concern about vocational schooling in New York City is necessary to keep those who are not destined for college on a path to a decent career. No other candidate has talked about this issue.

As one party insider (who is not working for Catsimatidis) has explained, good ideas like this get lost with some of Catsimatidis’ other ideas, like his desire to bring a monorail to the city.

If Catsimatidis does not become the nominee, or if he loses on Election Day, this is a cause on which he should remain focused. His narrative of “poor kid makes good” seems to be important to him, and it could be useful to the city.

Not all of our students are headed to college. They will need to do something. We know how hard it is to get a plumber or an air conditioner repair person when we need one.

These are options for kids that might not want to go to college or may not have the resources. There may be some giggles when Catsimatidis talks about some of his ideas, but there is also some agreement.

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