Library – the FACTS

By:  Diane Benjamin

Back when the City Manager did real Monthly Reports, the library traffic was easier to understand.  It always included year-to-year comparisons.  The summary now doesn’t.

See this graph from October 2015:  PDF page 43

This is what was reported for October 2017:

PDF page 11

Several items are noteworthy:

  • a large number of people are using the computers
  • an average of 16 people participated in the 64 programs offered in October 2017
  • the number of items borrowed is down
  • number of visitors is higher but since items borrowed didn’t increase, they either attended programs, used the computers, or the free Wi-Fi

Before adding on or relocating the library some questions need answered:

  1.  What is the purpose of the library?
  2. Why does the library provide free meeting rooms?
  3. Why does the library provide free computers or Wi-Fi?
  4.  Why is the library holding “events” and who is paying for them?
  5.  Why is the library not going more digital?
  6.  What are citizens willing to pay for?

Problems are never solved by government because government employees wouldn’t have jobs if they were.  Jobs have to be continually re-defined in order to exist.  Those free meeting rooms aren’t really free, the computers aren’t really free, events obviously aren’t free after paying staff.

Because government doesn’t produce revenue, their adventures good or bad are at your expense.

No clear purpose for expanding or moving the library has been given.  If the purpose is to hold “events”, the people paying the bills deserve to be told.

If the purpose is to provide “free stuff”, the people paying the bills need to be told that.

If the purpose is to get people downtown, it will fail just like every other scheme fails.  Government can not control behavior without force.

The world is going digital, is the library?  See this FREE site for ebooks:






20 thoughts on “Library – the FACTS

  1. All I ever see are more government employees, usually paper pushers who really do not do work that is substantive. Time to fight back and demand accountability. Its your money and mine.


  2. Libraries are part of the past. They need to be closed not moved. They are not community centers. The year is 2017 and libraries are obsolete. Talking about building/moving a library is insane and the people pushing this are stuck in a world that no longer exists (except in their minds). FYI- a library is not a job creator for city employees either.


    1. I don’t know that I would agree with closing them. There are many books not available in electronic format that probably will never be.
      If anything they should be transitioning to electronic formats and stop buying hard bound copies. For example it is getting more difficult to find CD’s being sold. Now I buy all of mine in electronic format and that is somewhat cheaper. The push back should be convert to electronic format to reduce space usage as well as more environmentally better with fewer trees need for paper.
      About the only time I purchase a book is if it is one containing photography, architecture, etc. Everything else I find in electronic format.


      1. Sorry, Marc. Larry is spot on. Libraries are increasingly irrelevant. Nearly every printed material can be found online from the comfort of one’s own personal space, school, or employer via smartphone, tablet, or laptop/desktop computer. Libraries are trying to postpone the inevitable by offering programming and free internet, the value of which is questionable at best. Most children now, and certainly 20 years from now, will not set foot in a traditional library. This project is nothing but an excuse to give away money and jobs to the union.


      2. Discarding old books is not something I expected to hear on this site, especially from some of you that are usually on the ball. Electronic can be manipulated so easy, I do not suggest electronic transfer. Ya can’t trust the electronic version at all. Everything is being hacked these days. Give me a book that I can hold in my hand.


  3. Great questions Diane. Our City Council Does NOT answer questions. There in LIES the problem. I know two things.
    1. Amelia and Tari were pushing the individuals presenting about the library tax levy to want the library relocated. I’m pretty sure they didn’t tape that meeting because it started in the fishbowl. Joni Painter was pretty clear that her constituents did not want the library moved and if I remember correctly she compared it to the Judy Dome. The Council approved a tax increase without even having a plan. That is insanity at its very best.

    2. The Council does not answer questions because they do not serve the people they are supposed to. That library is going to be moved. I would bet Mike Matejka’s job on it.


  4. There is a hidden agenda, what is to be done with the present library? We know that the sewer system is toast at parking garage, so what else. You want to move the library system to the bar scene just a block away and put the bus system there?? A lot of stuff going on in that small block. Question: You live in a house(library) and you just have to move(p-garage) and you never thought how this is going to effect your bottom line? This is where we are going if we(Bloomington) voters allow this. Another botched idea, Council think before you jump!


  5. The proposed new library is a gift and makework project for the unions from Tari and the liberals with our money. Nothing more, nothing less. It has absolutely nothing to do with economic development.


    1. Yes it has nothing to with economic development and it has nothing to the reality of the 21st Century and the Age of Information. It has to be seen as nothing more that a giveaway to the construction unions and a way to maintain library jobs in the city. As someone who spent hundreds on hours in libraries before the Age on Information began, I can find no reason to go in one today. Everything…. let me repeat that…. everything and more is available to me electronically now. So why would I even consider wasting my time going into a library? Libraries in the next 5 years will be closed by the thousands around the world. But the City of Bloomington wants to build a new one?


  6. I cannot remember the last time I was at the library. We used to go all the time when the kids were little. Free video rentals, kids programming, etc.

    Now? I have no use for the library.

    We could consider the internet a source of information. I have no issues with people coming to use a computer. Some do not have one. Therefore some cannot utilize an e-publication.

    What I do object to is library usage numbers reported that do not break out type of users. How many are there just for the computers? How many just for free programs? How many individual users (do not count those who come in to return items. i.e. X # of households used the library x times). Yes, the usage numbers may need to include repeat household usage, but without breaking out numbers, people see that usage number of 10,000/month as 10,000 households used the library. “Obviously it’s a great need.” Not really.

    Bottom line – we will get a new library like it or not. When have they listened to the citizens? Coliseum? Bike paths on Washington? (Don’t mind these but do not sacrifice roadway for this usage).


      1. The average TAXPAYER (not resident) will probably never set foot in the library. And with our population in decline, this would be a good time to downsize/reprioritize an antiquated business model. But not Tari and the City Council, they live in a bygone era. Let’s pour more money into it!


      2. Anyone notice the nearly 1,000,000 to upgrade parking including for the garage that under Matejka’s rule will most definitely be torn down. Seems a bit wasteful doesn’t it? Maybe it’s not wasteful for a few individuals. Wonder who those individuals are.


      3. Angela, the $1M for the garage is for repair IF it is not torn down. The Downtown Task Force is using that as an excuse to redo the garage with a library and bus terminal.


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