Friday, September 12, 2008

The Final Word on Libraries

Okay this will be my last comment concerning libraries. I give up. Very clearly the majority of Ottawans believe it is much more important to build a $200 million library than it is to stop dumping raw sewage into our rivers, or clean the bedbugs out of your grandmother’s mattress.
Judging from the blogs and emails received it only makes good sense that my four-year-old grandson can borrow 20 music CD’s, ten movies and ten video games every day for free, but if he wants to play hockey we taxpayers should bill him $432. Much better apparently for him to spend his time on the couch all day long watching movies then getting out onto our playing fields.

Okay, Okay, I admit my idea that we have greater priorities than spending $200 million on a library is all wrong. Ditto my idea that getting some exercise has value for children. By the way it’s not just video games and CD’s you get free from our libraries. How about free pedometers as well? And just for the fun of it, free watt meters too! Oh ya, also free museum passes. As many as you want! Not only that good folks, but you can order all of these dandy little free items on the Library “Online Catalogue”. You can even set up your own account at the Library, not that you have to pay for any of this, and in many cases we will now even deliver your free music and game videos right to your home.

Just for the heck of it. Here is the official list of what we taxpayers pay for so users don’t have to pull out the old wallet:

An unlimited number of books, printed, on tape and on CD
An unlimited number of magazines
Ten compact discs, CD ROM’s, videocassettes and DVD’s
Twenty music CD’s
An unlimited number of museum passes
Also free, as earlier stated, pedometers and watt meters!
Meantime, we don’t have the money to clean bedbugs out of public housing, we don’t have the money to stop dumping raw sewage into our rivers and to have your kids play soccer, T-ball and hockey on and in City owned property. That would cost you close to a thousand dollars…. per kid!
But as many of you bloggers and e-mailers say: That’s the way it should be.

By the way, across the River in Gatineau if you just want to borrow books, library services are free, but if you want to avail yourself of things like DVD’s and music videos you will have to pay something. These so-called optional services in Gatineau will cost you $10 a year for an individual. It’s $25 per year for a family with an annual income in excess of $40,000. It’s half that amount for families with an income below $40,000 and free for those on welfare. Non-Gatineau residents will have to pay $50 a year to use their libraries. Families outside the city have to pay $100 a year.

It works very well in Gatineau, where fees to use playing fields are far less than half of what you must pay in Ottawa.


deneb said...

When a new superhighway is built, a toll is often charged to recoup the cost. An example is the great Coquilhala superhighway in southern BC. When I lived in BC, it cost me 8 bucks to truck from Kelowna to Vancouver, but the savings in time and distance was always worth it. Unfortunately, the reality is that all too often this toll becomes a permanent charge --long after the project has been payed off: Remember those "temporary" airport improvement charges? I digress.

If the cats with our money decide to spend a fifth of a billion bucks on a library (a super- project, like the super-highway) then a user fee should apply till the cost is recouped.

Twenty five dollars a year for a "library card" would be a reasonable nominal charge for borrowing books. You can't tell me that even the poorest cannot afford 25 dollars a year. That is the about the equivalent of one Tim Horton extra-large java per month.

All non-traditional items, obtained from a library, should NOT be free. DVDs, internet time, games and the like should be rented out for approximately the same price that the private retailer would charge.

When the cost of building the library is reclaimed, then the library charge could be reduced or waived.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Green, please don't say that the Ottawa river isn't going to be cleaned of sewage; that bugs are infesting social housing units; and that your grandson is getting fat and lazy because the library took all the city's money when you know that is simply not true. It's strange that you feel that the money for the library should go to "greater priorities", and that one of them is so your grandson can play soccer, T-ball and hockey for free. Perhaps your step-daughter should "get a haircut and get a real job", as you're so fond of saying on your radio program, in order to make up the cost of enrollment. It's not the library's fault people can't afford the fees, to say otherwise is the height of irresponsibility and ignorance.

Heather Fletcher said...

First of all..I don't recall Mr. Green ever saying his grandchild was "fat and lazy". I think it is pretty disgusting for you to even say such a thing about his grandchild. His point is that kids DO get fat and lazy from sitting in front of video games all day. Ottawa is contributing to that by providing the free games, movies, etc. As for his daughter needing to get a more lucrative job you're just being rude. The activities are too expensive for being city run programs. BTW I personally feel the height of ignorance and irresponsibility is to make personal attacks on a 4 year old child, and Lowell's daughter....whom I am reasonably sure have never done anything to you.

xiz said...


Mr. Green can't seem to get his point across, so rather than engage in debate, he takes his toys and goes home.

How persuasive.

Anonymous said...

Heather: Mr. Green has made a career of saying to the less fortunate that they need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps when times get tough; I don't see how you can cry foul when I do the same thing using Mr. Green's own words (well, they were George Thorogood's words, but you get my point). If someone is going to say that libraries are taking all the city's cash and are making kids fat by letting them borrow books, movies, and videogames, it's more than fair to question the notion that it's the library's fault that these kids aren't getting their exercise. You can't have it both ways.

xiz said...

I actually think that a nominal fee to help recoup the construction costs would be quite acceptable. A fee of, say, 10 - 20 bucks a year (fixed, not indexed) which would end when the construction and initial move-in costs were reclaimed would be reasonable.

As for the library materials available, I fail to see what's objectionable .. books, magazines, even CDs are all quite consistent with the mandate of a public library. I believe museum passes are an excellent idea, and also quite in line with the library's mandate to foster learning and literacy.

And if the issue is kids not getting exercise, well, they'd have ample opportunity to do so, exploring the various museums and galleries in the city, and, heaven forbid, they may actually learn something in the process.

Anonymous said...

I have tried to comment on the previous two posts, but my comments seem to have gone to electronic heaven (I never got 'your comment had been received' confirmation, so this is not a matter of being 'censored', but perhaps of my comments being a little too long!)

Mr. Green - I agree with you wholeheartedly. Keep ONLY educational materials and children/youth books in the library - that is what we are told their purpose is, let's hold to it.

There is no 'educational value' in stocking 'harlequin romances' and 'current fiction'. Ditto for 'legacy buildings'. So, let's obey the rhetoric and make sure ONLY educational materials are acceptable in our libraries!

djxtreme said...

a. fanklin. What planet are you from? It's simple, on one hand the city is giving away free stuff as part of a service. On the other hand charging (unfair) fees for other services. See a problem? If you cant then go back to your condo where you probably live by yourself and eat your tv dinner, watch tv and blame evryone else for your lack of a life.

ottawarants said...

Your missing the point.Yes people who do not have much should get these service.But people whoa re well of making big money are useing these services.

lprezeau said...

Lowell, my husband and I gave up last year. We moved to the country in Prescott & Russell to try and find our own Island of Sanity. I'll let you know if we find it...