by Jonah Shepp & Patrick Appel
A picture of the library frequenter begins to emerge: a civic-minded, well-educated individual who has strong ties to community, culture, and information. Also, interestingly, both the library lovers and information omnivores tended to lean liberal or Democrat. … [I]t seems that those using libraries are somewhat homogenous: they’re mostly wealthy, well-educated, and well-informed. Yet the library ought to reach a diverse population: it ought to offer resources to those from lower incomes, without many community connections, or to those lacking technological or informational resources. Yet many such individuals are the library’s rarest frequenters—or never use it at all.
David Harsanyi is discouraged:
The census says we have around 17,000 libraries in the United States (this doesn’t include far more useful school libraries). These libraries spend much of their $11 billion yearly budgets subsidizing the entertainment needs of people who can afford to do help themselves. Some of us are comforted knowing that there are buildings in nearly every town that are filled with books. But if they’re not helping Americans who need it the most, what’s the point?