In tough economic times, is this a good option or not?
Some to be taken over by private foundation
This is fine as long as the "private foundations, wealthy individuals, companies, and community development corporations" that take them over don't control what is on the shelves and what isn't. I could foresee some individuals and corporations with a political agenda determining what the library makes available.
I'm a heavy user of the public library. I'm amazed that I'm served so well without any demand for extra payments for such services. I've made several requests of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library that such services be rightfully transformed into fee-for-service. To date, my requests have not been made into policy.
I'm a big beneficiary of our public library. That just means that YOU are paying for my benefits. And that's just not right.
Certain things about the library should be either privatized or fee-d. Dropping books off at non-native branches should invoke a fee. Getting a book through the library-lend system should invoke a fee. Etc. Or, the library can create classes of service, with a basic level of service for the poor that's free of fees, and then higher classes for people like me, with yearly fees.
I use the library quite a bit and I agree with your fee proposal. I would not balk at paying a fee for requests/transfers, or other services...like being fined for dropping off at another site. The library currently moves materials from site-to-site daily and that must cost some bucks. I use these services a lot, though lately I have been driving downtown when I need something from the main library, just because I enjoy going there.
A free-access library does provide an important community service--access to knowledge--that a county should not charge for...doing so excludes.
Maybe they could charge for screwing around on the Internet, though. While providing Internet access is necessary and allows people without the means to get online to research, learn, communicate, etc... I also think that it is used much more often for idle nonsense. If you want to partake in idle nonsense at home, go ahead. At the library for crimeney's sake, pick up a book!
When I was school age, I made the trek to the library every couple of days and I hung out there...reading. Today, kids go to the library and bypass the books for the computers. Go in on a snow day when school is out--the computers are completely booked.
Kids and adults alike use the computers to play games, and post to their MySpace Pages and Facebook sites, and if I had 5 cents for every time I've walked by a computer at the public library or UT's library and seen some level of pornography, I'd donate it all to the library which would no longer be hurting for money.
My lengthy mini-essay on libraries just got eaten.
I'm too pissed to rewrite it. I'll just sum up and say that I oppose wholesale privatization of public libraries.
(historymike goes off to the corner to sulk about the evaporated post he spent 15 minutes pondering and writing)
There might well be a Firefox plugin that can handle that sort of thing for you in the future.
If you're opposed to privatization, then what are your thoughts on the next best thing, that being classes of service?
but I'm opposed to the privatization of public libraries as well.