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06 November 2007

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Levi

I suppose it's an easy way to know what businesses and products to avoid in the future.

Tom

What if an advertiser came into your library and offered $250,000 if you placed a Coca-Cola bookmark in every book that was checked out? Would you think that was a good thing or a bad thing? What if Google came in and offered free computers with broadband internet access but the computers had to be configured so that all searches were done through google?

Leila

Ugh. I just lost my whole response. This internet connection bites.

Basically, what I said is this: I understand the library's reasons for the decision, but I personally still think it's gross, the same way that I think the free scoreboards that high schools get from Coke are gross.

If I had any sort of authority at my library (which I don't), I'd like to think that I'd stick to my guns. But A) that decision would be one that the Board would make, and B) if the majority of the population that the library serves was all for it, I'd think that it would probably happen, regardless of my personal opinion. I do know that my library has turned down small stuff (free mousepads and such) -- but I have no idea what they'd do if offered a large chunk of money.

Chrissy

We foresee a number of potential problems...
1. HUGE waste of paper. I can hear the complaints now...
2. Huge waste of time inserting these ONCE A MONTH. Do the employees get paid extra for doing the work of the advertiser? Or does the library get penalized if the adverts are not properly displayed/distributed?
3. Irate patrons - this would piss me off immensely as a patron, finding things stuck in the books. Would we be charged if we lost them, like due date cards?
4. Irate patrons - advertising for something tends to make folks believe you support it.
5. Irate patrons - when did my PUBLIC library become a corporate whore?

I could go on, but I think you are getting the meat of my rant. I also see the reasoning, but I can imagine some pretty severe backlash in some communities. Even if something like this went to a town vote, huge amounts of patrons (at least in my system) use the library from out of town and would have absolutely no say in the decision. They are patrons, but not residents of the correct town to be voting taxpayers.

Here's an interesting scenario: suppose a large publisher paid a library $250,000 to display a known controversial book? Publisher has a brilliant idea to market books that tend to be banned, goes to libraries and offers them money to display them prominently, because they know a banned book suddenly sells more in a particular region. Does the library then ignore all challenges because they are being paid to? Who has final say and who takes the flak? The community, the library or the advertiser?

Tom

I doubt very much that patrons will be irate when they discover that their tax burden for the library will be reduced because of bookmarks. If my local librarian told me that they were going to be able to add a new wheelchair entrance or upgrade their computer system, etc. and it was going to be paid for by sticking a bookmark in each book, I would want to award that librarian with a raise, not an irate complaint.

And are you serious that you charge people for lost due date cards? My library doesn't even give them anymore. Everything is computerized so I get a slip of paper to remind me when the books are due but that is only for my convenience.

Let's go through the complaints:

1. You aren't serious are you? A library complaining about wasted paper? There are about 35,000 different handouts piled by the checkout at my library telling me how to recycle, when the next high school dance is, etc. A 3x5 index card stuffed in a book suggesting that Corn Flakes makes a great breakfast is hardly in the same ballpark.

2. What waste of time? You insert them when the book is returned. Plus I would assume that the money being given to the library includes the cost of paying someone to insert the cards in the books.

3. Have you ever had to remove dozens of slips of paper from a magazine you just bought? One piece of paper that is helping to reduce my tax bill is not going to piss me off. Trust me.

4. My web site has ads all the time that I don't support. They help pay the bills. Anyone who doesn't understand that needs a lesson in advertising. I would assume that the librarians would have enough sense not to allow offensive advertising.

5. My library has a plaque by the door thanking the many sponsors who helped build the library including many of the local businesses. Does that make my library a corporate whore?

Tom

As to the money to display a controversial book, I think this goes against the very nature of what a library is. Books should be chosen on their merit based on the knowledge and experience of the librarians and not because the publisher has a big bank account.

Tom

"the same way that I think the free scoreboards that high schools get from Coke are gross"

Can you explain why you think this is gross? If a school can't afford a scoreboard and a business is willing to put up the money for it at the cost of a small ad then why is this "gross"? Is it better for the students to do without? My high school yearbook (yes, they had them even back in the 1600's) is full of advertisements that were used to pay for the yearbook. Some are from parents and many are from local businesses. Is that "gross" as well?

cc

I know this has nothing (really) to do with the story, but while I was back at the Monkey someone came into the store and put *extremely* explicit ads for a fetish/strip club into books ALL over the store. Awesome.

Now that I have that totally prejudicial story out of the way, I will admit that I find the entire advertising industry disturbing. We seem to be reaching a point of saturation where there is very little public space which is not "sponsered" by one company or another. I supppose primarily my objections are aesthetic (Coors Field? Is that a name for a ball park? Sheesh.) But also resent the constant assault.

I know I would be disappointed in my library.

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