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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Libraries? We Don't Need No Steenkin' Libraries!

Arthur Murphy
An increasing library contribution is making Bethlehem Township think twice about whether it wants to remain among the six municipalities currently participating in the Bethlehem Area Public Library. Thomas Nolan reported to fellow Commissioners at their September 19 meeting that the Township's share of the cost will increase from $372,000 to nearly $410,000.

Six municipalities - Bethlehem, Bethlehem Township, Lower Saucon Township, Hanover Township, Freemansburg and Fountain Hill - all help fund the library. All, excepting Fountain Hill, will see an increase next year.

According to the latest census figures, population in the Township has risen 21,171 to 23,730 over the past ten years, and each person is assessed $17.25.

Commissioner Michael Hudak complained that the "library runs on its own, without any oversight." He resents the library "dictating to us what we owe." But the library staff reports to a 14-person board that includes representatives from each of the six member municipalities. Bethlehem Township has two representatives, including Janet Barry and Commissioner Nolan.

Arthur Murphy, President of Bethlehem Township's Board, thinks the Township should start its own library in a portion of the Community Center.

"The last people I know who use the library are young mothers who take their kids down there and read stories and getting mostly stuff like that," noted Murphy, who stated the Township could do that itself. "Just what services do they provide to Bethlehem Township, other than having a big library up there and we're free to go into it and take out books and use their computers?" he asked. Hudak agreed, stating that information is at everyone's "fingertips," thanks to the Internet.

According the the library's 2010 annual report, 46% of the Township's population are cardholders.

Unlike Murphy and Hudak, Commissioner Jerry Batcha believes pulling out of the Bethlehem Area Public Library would be a mistake because the Township would be unable to provide the same level of service on an ongoing basis with $409,000. "Unless the intent is not to provide that service," Batcha pointedly remarked. Nolan agreed with Batcha, arguing that Township officials should instead urge the library to be more careful with their costs.

So with two in favor of leaving and two in favor of staying, that makes Commissioner Paul Weiss the swing vote. He listened.


Anonymous said...

Bethlehem Township has all the money and allof the development and now they want out o the library. Keep building more and more community centers, etc and your kids will be the athletically dumb kids in the future. How much do oyu spend on your iconic athletic program?????????

Anonymous said...

One of these very tiny communities even conducted a special referendum on continuing library funding because it seemed only a fraction of the population enjoyed the library. Taxpayers voted "yes."

Anonymous said...

Anon12:53. Their budget is on their website. It shows that they don't come close to spending a half million dollars on their athletics. Before posting check your facts. They are easy to find.

Anonymous said...

Do you know if the downtown Bethlehem library ever put a coffee shop on the second floor for teens?

Anonymous said...

$400,000! Bethlehem Township could build it's own collection without an older unused building and use community book donations to stock it and volunteers to run it. Isn't that how the library system began in the first place?
$400,000! That's a lot of paper!
Bethlehem Township young moms have to load up the kids, get all sorts of equipment and then drive to downtown Bethlehem and then find a parking spot among the 20 or so available for only 1 or 2 hours or else a huge ticket comes with delay. Bethlehem's downtown library is in an awful spot for pedestrian ease and especially for those with special needs. Try crossing that street in front of city hall at 5 p.m. Forget about it unless folks are lucky enough to have a patrol car waiting at the stop sign, it's dangerous.

Anonymous said...

without Sorry. within

Jon Geeting said...

"Hudak agreed, stating that information is at everyone's "fingertips," thanks to the Internet."

Does everyone have access to the Internet, or is it only people who can afford to pay for the Internet?

Trudie said...

jon shows his butt once again with his silly remarks

Carol said...

I can't speak for any library other than our library in Bangor. The use of this library is phenomenal, it is difficult for a library to run with just volunteers. A library also definitely needs an individual versed in its needs and the reports it requires. Unless one is a reader or one has never spent any time within a library to use its resources, the appreciation of that facility is not recognized. The Bangor Library averages approximately 2,000 books, newspaper, research, etc. per month. Bangor's library board has fund raisers as I am sure is indicative of other boards. A library is an asset to any community. Carol

Anonymous said...

Oh my, this guy is a genius:

"Just what services do they provide to Bethlehem Township, other than having a big library up there and we're free to go into it and take out books and use their computers?"

Um, that IS the service. This is the first you've heard of these things called libraries? Just mothers and kids? Apparently, this rocket scientist has never even step foot inside.

Anonymous said...

jon shows his butt once again with his silly remarks

How is it silly? It's silly only to someone ignorant of the society around them.

Anonymous said...

Gov Corbitt rapes the education system of PA and now some local yuckster wannabe politicians think they can run a library for 400k, what the hell are these guys smoking?

Where are the soccer moms of the township when you really need them?

Organize a protest and demand that the township fund a real library, not a room in the corner of a rec center...

Anonymous said...

"Does everyone have access to the Internet, or is it only people who can afford to pay for the Internet?"

-----------------------------------According to the US Census Bureau:

Forty-three percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.

The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)

Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.

Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.

Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.

Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

Anonymous said...

Almost everyone can afford the Internet. Curtail 98% of library spending and use 2% of it to connect the very poor.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Do you know if the downtown Bethlehem library ever put a coffee shop on the second floor for teens?"

Gosh, I don't know. I was there for a meeting a few weeks ago, and did not see one.

Ryan Critchett said...

Who knows! Anymore, knowing how to use the internet is a great resource that can replace the need for any content in a library.

But! I enjoy going to Barnes and Noble to read. It's more the "place" than it is the resources.

Bernie O'Hare said...

A library is one of the strengths of a community. BAPL, for example, does have an app under which you can borrow books for your iPad or kindle. It enables people who have no computers to fill out job applications. The books and reports still contain materials that are NOT readily available on the Internet, despite what Hudak says. There are audiotapes and videotapes. I do not think we, as a society, are better off if we stop supporting libraries.

Anonymous said...

"Get a horse!"

Ice delivery, buggy whip manufacturing, coal firemen on electric trains: how did we ever get by without them?

Times change. We don't need the post office, either.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Libraries have existed for centuries to provide knowledge to people who would not otherwise have access to it. Whether it is in the form of a book, video, CD, or a downloadable book, it is there. It has always been the bridge between those who are information poor and would like to learn. It is by no means anachronistic. Now, more than ever, it is needed. Its computers are a vital resource for those among us unable to afford PCs or the Internet. There are people who use these libraries to make out jb applications (I am repeating myself).

Don't get me wrong. I consider the Internet the new Library of Alexandria. It is marvelous. But for specialized research, nothing beats a library, whether it is the Marx room in Easton or the archives in Bethlehem.

It introduces children to the wonderful world of reading.

Libraries could probably improves ther appearance and try harder to be a little more social like B&N. They should have coffeeshops and more activity. But stodgy or not, they actually help us learn, and without the distractions that come on the Internet.

I do read faster on the Internet, but my comprehension is not as good, and I have been embarrassed a few times when I've completely missed something.

Bernie O'Hare said...

One other point about libraries. They provide a safe environment for children. Other than organized sports, it is hard for me to think of places where so many kids can get together and get into so little trouble ad remain so safe.

Anonymous said...

This is a struggle between 19th/20th century thinking and the technology that is making the 21st century the information age.

While we need some buildings, we don't need all of them or as many as we used to. There is a library in every computer so it calls into question having brick and mortar structures to store volumes of knowledge. These resources are easily surpassed by the Internet.

Perhaps we should call them community centers and not put such an emphasis on shelves and stacks of books. Instead, have banks of computers available to those who do not have internet access at home.

The same is true of offices. Many people today could easily work from home either doing office 'paperwork' which is basically word processing and data crunching. This would go a long way towards reducing pollution and congestion from commuting.

Rather than look at this as a negative, we should envision the opportunity of devoting resources to centers where many positive social interactions could take place. Such as instructing immigrants to learn English.

Chris Casey said...

I think Northampton should pass a bond issue to move "Warehouse 13" from North Dakota to Forks Township. Let the kids play with the artifacts.

Lighthouse said...

Andrew Carnegie:

“It was from my own early experience that I decided there was no use to which money could be applied so productive of good to boys and girls who have good within them and ability and ambition to develop it as the founding of a public library”


"You can't push anyone up the ladder unless he is ready to climb it himself."

I know many of your readers would praise Carnegie's self-made wealth, but may be too willing to forget his belief in providing ladders for those who chose climb them. Libraries serve many functions from recreational to research via a variety of media. The soccer moms and their kids referenced are only one niche of users.

Anonymous said...

Never trust men with goatees. They are obviously both bad judgements of what's good for them and current trends.


Men with Yosemite Sam mustaches

Anonymous said...

Yosemite Sam Stocker
Defund education at all levels.
Close the libraries.
Edit and rewrite history.
Ban books that promote independent thought.
Endorse ignorance by wearing it as a badge of courage.
To maintain control
provide bus rides, placards, coffee, and donuts.
Get elected.
Stay elected.

Anonymous said...

It will come down to either higher taxes or the Library? $400g is a lot of money even for Bethlehem Township. Most in the Township would rather not see a tax increase and could care less if the library is funded in Bethlehem or a new one in the Township.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sure, $400k is a lot of money bc Beth Tp has more people than it did ten years ago. Instead of working on a new library that will eventually cost more or will not provide the same level of service, it makes sense to continue working with Bethlehem and finding ways to economize.

42% of the Township's residents use that library.

Catharine said...

I can see my grandchildren now- chewing on the corner of an iPad instead of touching Pat the Bunny.

Children's books often make up a large portion of a library's collection, and with good reason. I took out hundreds of books for my daughter when she was young. She is 15 now and reading Vonnegut.

However, $400K is a large amount of money. My local library, which owns its building, has an annual budget of $86K. It may not be a large as the Bethlehem system, but it serves a broad community in upper Montgomery County.

Anonymous said...

I agree with my fellow teabggaers, that noted Socialist Ben Franklin, created the first public library. What a disaster he and it were for our great nation.

Besides, libraries are just a place were homless guys can get their computer porn and scope out kids in the bathrooms.

Werner Von Goethe

Anonymous said...

Libraries are a good thing for so many reasons. I think we went around on this last year.

In the end, it will become a matter of priorities. And, as long as we continue choosing to overemploy, overcompensate and overbuild in the public sector, allow companies like GE to pay no net corporate income tax, and turn a blind eye as trillions of dollars of debt is laid upon the backs of future generations, things like libraries will continue to make the list of potential "expendables".


Anonymous said...

And let us not leave out subsidizing the poor oil companies
you know they are nearly out of business ....Clem

Anonymous said...

Yes, subsidizing oil companies is yet another diversion of tax dollars yet to be confiscated. Another reason we are in the bind that causes localities to consider reductions like this.


Anonymous said...

We don't need the post office, either.

Yes, because small business and giant corporations alike would absolutely love mailing $4 letters through Fedex. (And that's assuming Fedex drops their price 300%)

Can you imagine how much your school tax alone would go up if schools had to mail letters for $4 a pop, 10x what they pay now?

Anonymous said...

My local library, which owns its building, has an annual budget of $86K.

How many staff members can you have for $86K? Part of the value of a library is librarians.

Anonymous said...

Clem - Newsflash: The library is the dreaded "public sector." Without the "public sector" you would be nowhere.

Anonymous said...

Without the public sector I would have nothing?

I don't know how to respond to such rabid, blind, and, really, dangerous blather from the troughfeeding troll. But, here goes:

"The library" is not a Federal or State bureacracy which benefits the connected and it's employee unions without regard to those who fund it. It is not awash in AFSCME, SEIU or PSEA featherbedding. It is, or was, one of the last examples of communities responsibly furnishing something for themselves with their own dollars.

If they have grown dependent on Federal and State grants, borrowed money that will never be repaid, and follow the path of the public education system, well, then I would say they deserve the scrutiny and may need to go.

Once again, your need to defend your handout trumps common sense.

Now, back to whatever it is you don't do for your dip in the trough.


Anonymous said...

I will keep their copy of "Huck Finn" out for a few years and pay my 5 cents a day late fee. That should help.

Anonymous said...

Clem - Yes, nothing. Or do you ignore the infrastructure and institutions and labor that enabled what little success you have achieved? Oh no, you did it all on your own, right? Obviously, you didn't achieve much academically if you can't comprehend such a basic reality.

Anonymous said...

Commisioner Nolan is a know-it-all. The others are so blind they let him dictate without stopping him. Let's be real ...... their tax base is going to hell. No mall - no tax revenue. St. Luke's - no tax revenue. No new development - no tax revenue.

One of these days the bottom will fall out. The City of Bethlehem smoke and mirror tactics are moving east. Next they's start threatening layoffs instead of raising taxes gradually to keep up with real life. Nolan!!!!!!!!!!!!