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A progressive place

Wow. Round Rock voters approved a $23.2 million bond issue for public libraries in yesterday's election.

The measure passed on a 60-40 vote.

The library package was just one piece of a larger proposal put before voters in the Williamson County city. In all, they OK'd spending almost $124 million on fire department, police department, lilbrary and other public facilities.

It takes courage these days for elected officials to ask voters to approve bond programs, given the anti-government flavor of our times. And in a lot of places, funding for libraries is being cut.

So, hats off to Round Rock. Citizens there seem to care about the quality of life they provide for themselves and their children.

Handing over the ID

When I voted last week at the Wimberley Community Center, I duly handed over my drivers license as required by law.

The woman working at the polls ran it through a scanner and handed it back to me.

That's probably the first time anyone has ever scanned my DL, and it surprised me. I thought the poll worker would just look at the DL and see if my name matched the information on the registered voter list and my voter registration card.

I don't know what the election folks get when they scan my license. Do they get the color of my eyes, my date of birth and the kind of DL it is? So they know that my license is only good if I wear glasses?

So, who can access the information that was scanned? Is that going to be for sale through the county elections office? Can the political parties buy that? Can Wal-Mart?

Just wonderin'.

Space for 'makers'

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.

Holler at me at the library -- 847-2188 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

You're under arrest!

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.

There's privacy and privacy

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.