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Mad Dash to the Library

Psst ... here's a secret for you: Libraries are the happenin' places to be!

They begin to line up on the sidewalk as much as an hour before the doors open. At 10 a.m. they make a mad dash through all three entrances. Security guards estimate they are 200 to 300 strong, race-walking in their eagerness to get inside.

Is it the box office for a hot concert? A store selling the latest, coolest video game player? A sports event?

No, it's San Francisco's public library.

To the surprise of nearly everyone, libraries are hot. The city's Main Library has such a rush of visitors every morning when they open that one staffer jokingly refers to it as, "the running of the bulls."

Link - via Information Junk

Previously on Neatorama: Beautiful Libraries Around the World

The library in my city doesn't believe in books - they really just have children's books and the internet. I work at a second hand bookstore, and whenever we suggest someone check out the library, we get looks of disbelief.

It makes me really sad. :(
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If the place has lines that long, they need longer hours. No $ for longer hours? Charge people a couple $ for a library membership! That's not fair to poor people? [yes, I've been to SF and they have them everywhere!] OK, have extended hours with reduced staffing. To enjoy the extended hours, patrons need to buy an off-hours membership. The "normal" hours are still free and accesible to everyone as before. They could probably set the off-hours rates high enough to make some $ to buy more books.

There are ways of efficiently delivering the product to the users. If people are waiting in long queues, they are probably content with paying some $ to avoid this. Just let the users ber the cost -- don't foist it on the rest of the taxpayers.
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Re: Ellen's comments:
Ugh!! Why are government run libraries getting into the business of competing against private enterprise? These "free" movies she gets aren't really free -- the library (read taxpayers) are paying for the service... and probably a lot more than a piles of new books cost, too. Why? Can't people rent movies on their own?

Why is the municipality using your $ to run taxpaying, person-employing businesses out of town? If you don't like Blockbuster, try Netflix (that's what I do). Libraries should be for borrowing *books*. The degree of expansion of this mission is troubling to me (and johzephine as well, it seems). It's not governments' job to try to crush private sector business. Government is free to run inefficiently (because they can always tax more and are "unfireable"). When Blockbuster gets lazy and pricey, Netflix starts spanking them. Competition like this results in the best product being delivered at the lowest total price (include the taxes you pay!).

Straight talk from Sid.
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I'm hoping these movies available for download have some cultural value. That is after all, what libraries do: provide access to culture to everyone.

Regarding the argument of competing with the private sectors, the libraries around here (Portland, OR) have had videos for a very long time and I have not seen one blockbuster go out of business.

There is always a "taxpayer" to complain how their "tax monies" are spent. Truth is, we have governments to serve the need of the people in areas that can't be profitable: culture, education, law enforcement ...
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Solo makes a good point. The library isn't out to compete with local businesses - they exist side by side with bookstores, for example. Yes, the service is paid for with tax dollars, but the taxpayers are the ones who can download the movies. Libraries are lot more than just books; besides the downloadable movies they have downloadable audiobooks, they do programs, they have speakers, you can check out music, magazines, etc. In short, a place of value in the community for everyone.
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