Friday, 11 November 2011 00:00Passions run high when it comes to the Great Neck Library, but it appears that the members of the board want to move forward rationally and objectively. While there are a few people who believe that libraries are obsolete, harkening back to the horse and buggy days, there are many, many more who see the value of libraries and the role they play both as a real and virtual gathering place for lifelong learning.
Many of us relished our participation in the school district when we had children in school, attending plays, concerts, sporting events and the like. But then “they” graduated and so did we... with less direct involvement in the activities of the schools.
But we never graduate from libraries. In fact, libraries are now “giving” to us in more and more convenient ways. Our library subscribes to costly databases which we can easily access from home computers; those databases are too expensive for personal subscriptions but are within our reach collectively. Even e-books can be downloaded at no cost because we are part of a library system. But let us remember that not everything written has been transcribed and available on e-books. There are jewels of books that are out-of-print.
Our library system brings us magazines, periodicals, local history documents, a lively Levels program where teens have opportunities to choose and develop an array of programs, famous authors, artists, story hours for tots...the list goes on and on.
Libraries get to the essence of what is community. We do not have to personally use everything offered by our public institutions to value them and to share in the cost of providing them. I don’t play tennis or ice skate, but I support those facilities gladly because it makes our community more livable, more attractive to a variety of people.
We agree with some who say that the library referendum vote did mean that the community wants money spent prudently, but we do not think that it meant that we want the cheapest renovation possible. “Cheap” does not always equate prudence.
Edmund Burke said it more eloquently, “Mere parsimony is not economy. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy.”
Let’s catch our breath. Let’s speak with civility to each other. Let’s review all the community input from the past and think of other ways to garner ideas before deciding on another survey.
Let’s move forward wisely and deliberately.
- Carol Frank