Recently, I came across this blog post by Carrie Straka, TTW Contributor about the above library haiku she found on the ALA website:
“(That library services are free) is a misconception throughout libraries everywhere. A library card isn’t a 100% off coupon. A library card is a tool that allows users to take advantage of the services and materials that have already been purchased for them. People who use the library and borrow those books have already paid for them through their tax dollars. They’re not free books when the people borrowing them have already paid for them.
Many users believe that the services and materials we provide are free. As all library staff knows, this is a misconception. The services and materials we provide are not free. In fact, they are far from it. Librarians work within a budget and use all money provided to us through taxes, tuition, or other means.
Librarians should be challenging our users’ beliefs about the library every day. Let’s start by challenging the belief that library materials and services are free. When users ask,“Is it free?” or “Is there a charge?”, try responding by saying “No,your (tax dollars/tuition/company’s expenditures) have already paid for it.” I bet you’ll be greeted by confused looks. I think users forget that they’ve already contributed to the library with their taxes or tuition. We can encourage library usage by showing people that they can take advantage of something they’ve already paid for.”
At Cook, our “free” services are paid for primarily by Tamworth taxpayers, and augmented by The Friends of Cook Memorial Library, donations, memorial gifts and the occasional grant. Just in the past few months we have received memorial gifts in the names of Joseph Rancourt, Robert Brown, Mary Hunt & Bun Nickerson for which we are deeply appreciative. We have also received grants from The New Hampshire Humanities Council and The Libri Foundation.
Summer residents are also taxpayers who support the library with their tax dollars. For that reason and because we genuinely would like their feedback, we are handing out survey questionaires to our summer patrons so that we may learn to serve them better with their seasonal needs as visitors. If you are a summer patron, and are not offered a questionaire to fill out, please inquire at the circulation desk. We appreciate your patronage and would really like your feedback!