Eight or nine years ago, I was doing a ride-along with a Wichita Falls police officer when he was sent to the station to arrest a woman who owed a lot of fines to the public library there.
I tagged along as he cuffed her and booked her into the Wichita County Jail. She was mortified, of course. I was, too.
I knew the City Council had passed a law allowing for the arrest of people who owed fines. I just never figured it would happen. And I certainly did not divine that I would be present for such an event.
Today, I see that a Copperas Cove man has been arrested for overdue book fines under a similar law. Fox News is making something out of it.
It does still seem a little radical to have a law like this, even to this librarian.
Good news, then: We started today our food for fines program. If you owe a fine you can bring a canned good to pay it off at a rate of $2 per canned item. The food goes to the food bank in Wimberley.
I just participated in a webinar about "makers' spaces" in public libraries, and there are some exciting things going on around the country.
Part of the discussion focused, for example, on 3D printers, which have dropped in price to an astonishing extent.
Libraries can spend as little as $499 to have a fully functional 3D printer that replicates all kinds of small objects -- from Star Wars figures to game dice to small tools that really work.
There's a device called the Raspberry Pi that is basically a computer. It costs $35.
The library long-range plan has us putting together a makers' space here in Wimberley, so we are heading down that road.
With prices like these, we will get there sooner than later.
Meanwhile, I'm looking for local "makers" who would like to help us map out what to do.
In this week's New Yorker magazine, Evgeny Morozov has an essay entitled "Only Disconnect: Two cheers for boredom."
In it, he complains about the urgency of now, the imperative to be constantly connected to everything in the world around us, thanks to Twitter, smart phones, etc.
The antidote, he suggests, is to be unplugged and bored.
I would add this: Seeking quiet? Come to the library. We have a quiet zone.
But, even in that space, if you really want quiet, leave your phone, laptop and tablet at home.
Then, pick up a book and connect with just one other person, an author.
It's one thing for the NSA to scrape the Internet of private citizens.
That thing would be this: probably wrong but to be expected since we have all of us been cautioned over and over again about not expecting to keep anything private when we go online.
It's quite another for the NSA to spy on heads of government in allied states.
These folks have every right to believe what they say and do will be theirs alone, not plucked from cyberspace by an American agency.
That othr thing is this: clearly wrong and, to put a name on it, stupid.
Stories running today say President Obama did not approve NSA spying on the likes of Angela Merkel and didn't know about it. One would certainly hope not.
But one would also hope heads would roll and that the president would in outspoken language distance himself from what the NSA has been up to.
I just participated in a webinar sponsored by the American Library Association about e-books and libraries.
If you have tried to borrow books through our Overdrive program on our catalog page, you have undoubtedly concluded that there are not many e-books out there for you to download.
That's because publishers are not wanting to let us buy books to loan to you. I understand that.
But, after listening to an hour's worth of information, I also understand that the issues are far bigger than just the fact that every publisher has its own model for selling to libraries or not doing so.
Just consider what school and college librarians face as they try to buy books for one class for one term, and then multiply that by who knows how much.
I can definitively say the selling-lending situation is not going to improve much any time soon.
And that's bad for all of us.
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