Libraries -- Essential to Community Health
Guest Column by the Winter Park Library Association Board of Trustees
Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.
The Winter Park Library Association Board of Trustees has requested that the Voice share the following letter with its readers.
Click here to download the letter as a PDF.
By: Anne Mooney
Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.
Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”
The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.
In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.
The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.
As a former member of the Library Board of Trustees, thanks to the current board for this letter. Some in WP may not like the planned location of the new library. Some may not like the exterior design. Some may not like the planned new civic center with which the new library has been coupled. I hope, however, that everyone in the Winter Park community is in agreement that the Winter Park Public Library is and has been a resource and asset to be treasured and will work together to see that it continues to be for many years to come.
For me, the most important line in the above letter is that “[w]hat happens inside the library is what truly matters.” Having been involved in the early exploration of options for the library, I firmly believe that it cannot continue to evolve and grow in its current location in large part because of the limitations on the insides of the current library. While I do not engage in discussions over social media, I would be happy to discuss the basis of my beliefs with anyone who wishes to call me.
Hmmm. I wonder how many of the folks who signed that library letter are under 30? Maybe they don’t realize that we have this thing now called the internet. Printed books are going the way of the dinosaur, as is the concept of high school or college kids doing their research in a library. Now, it’s just open the laptop and Google it. Speaking of Google, they’ve long had a project underway to SCAN every book ever published. Sounds to me like a big cyber library in the cloud is in our future. Aside from the statistics mentioned in the subject letter, I wonder if they have numbers on how many people actually went to the library weekly 40 years ago, 30 years ago, 20 years ago, 10 years ago, and now. Of course, you’d want to adjust those statistics based on our population at those times, too. My guess is that would make things look even worse for them.
To anyone reading this – when is the last time you bought a book? Books on tape don’t count, nor do e-books. And when was the last time you set foot in a library for research? What? You just open your laptop and Google? The sacrilege!
Don’t get me wrong, I loved libraries. I happened to go to the WP library about fifteen years ago (first time since college), and I asked, “Where’s the card catalog?” The librarian looked at me and said, “You haven’t been here in a while, have you?”
No, I hadn’t. Haven’t been since, either. With our City Commission telling us change is good – SunRail, more development, now we take tourism tax dollars, etc. – maybe someone can let the library folks know change is coming – make that, HAS BEEN COMING – to their neck of the woods, too. Technology is seeing to that, whether they like it or not.
I guess they just can’t recognize an endangered species when it is them. Oh, wait, I get it! The library folks ARE for change! They’ll just change the new library into an events center! And let Rollins have their old building for expansion! Voila!
Rollins getting our property will show the entire community this whole thing is one big kickback’esque scheme paid for by the taxpayers of WP. How about cutting us all in on our share of the convenient sale benefits then, huh?!?
Personally the library property should NOT be sold. Maybe a charter school could go in there for exceptional WP residents, maybe a community center where free classes are offered to the community in things like SAT Prep, foreign language, art, history, finance, health. We have a vibrant community of exceptionally talented individuals who might share their time and knowledge with other residents if we made it the WP continued learning center. Our teens need volunteer hours for Bright Futures and college applications. What could they do there to offer their time and benefit the community? Pair them with a senior for teens and tech help? Reading and math tutoring for elementary kids?
Or we could get smart and only lease it to someone, say maybe Rollins, and retain the property and income from it forever.
Oh dear, maybe you need a library to help you do some research!
Turns out, younger people are the biggest library users: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/21/millennials-are-the-most-likely-generation-of-americans-to-use-public-libraries/
Whoops! Google stopped its scanning project: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-08-10-what-happened-to-google-s-effort-to-scan-millions-of-university-library-books
Wow, print books have surged while e-book sales are slipping: https://observer.com/2018/11/ebook-sales-decline-independent-bookstores/
Facts are so much more interesting than cranky old opinions.
Why would the authors of this letter feel the need to title this opinion “Libraries are essential To Community Health”? You shouldn’t have to sell us on your relevancy and this only begs the question as books rapidly become digital and information is principally found through research on the internet, how will a library with rooms full of tomes no longer needed or used stay significant to our community health?. I agree with Mr. Kiamoto, these institutions are becoming obsolete and the notion that we need to build a slightly bigger library to meet your needs doesn’t seem a genuine argument.
These statistics were the same tired arguments and numbers pedaled to the voters during the referendum campaign and given the lack of truthfulness to some of the library people’s claims, it’s hard to have faith your numbers are accurate.
But putting that aside, the library offers no new or meaningful information in this letter. How much money has been raised? Why is that a top secret? Where is your future business plan and budget? That’s important to us.
Currently the library receives an enormous amount of money – more than any other civic nonprofit, hands down. So, how do you plan to manage the cost of your new shiny building and promise the taxpayers we won’t be saddled with enormous operational costs every year? You state the library will be open to all income levels, but argue you’ll be making money off of future classes. So which is it? Open to the masses or classes for elite housewives.
People are furious over yesterday’s loss in the TDT fight. Residents were no match to the Mayor’s back room wheeling and dealing with a roomful of entrenched, robotic politicians.
If the purpose of this letter was to change minds, it didn’t and it won’t and the timing of your opinion was most unfortunate.
Why is the present Library an independent Non Profit?
Why is it not apart of the LARGER with more Resources Orange County library system?
The library receives tremendous financial support from the taxpayers of Winter Park.
Our library is clearly behind the times…
We need Better for Winter Park.