Fox News: Libraries are Old, Pricey and No One Uses Them. Don't Tell That to Santa Ana

A Fox News commentator has figured out a way to save money for a cash-strapped state: kill public libraries.

Libraries are old, expensive and no one checks out their books, argues Fox News Chicago's Anna Davlantes.

If the people of Illinois buy into this logic, good thing Santa Ana isn't in the Land of Lincoln.

Books . . . it's what's for dinner.
Books . . . it's what's for dinner.

That's because Santa Ana is withstanding a huge increase in foot traffic.

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Unemployment, a need for entertainment and readers hungry for books and other written materials in Spanish have reportedly combined to create this great need.

The need for more books in Spanish is also reflected nationwide in publishers printing and book-store chains offering more titles in that language.

As for libraries that serve Spanish-speaking populations, they are scrambling to fill the need, according to this Publishing Perspectives post that quotes Milly Lugo, who manages the Spanish-language collection for Santa Ana Public Library.

"As large as our collection is," Lugo says in the piece, "it barely scratches the surface of the demands from our Spanish-speaking community. Our adult Spanish nonfiction collection of 9,540 items was checked out 42,320 times [in the past year]. We also receive many inter-library loans requests."

To help fill the need, librarians from Brooklyn to San Diego regularly send their reps to the Guadalajara Book Fair in search of new titles to bring to el norte. Some also order books from Spain which, despite the dialect differences, produces written materials the mesh with the Spanish reading style of speakers in the U.S., according to Publishing Perspectives.

Another crutch has been e-books, although Lugo sees more immediate promise in bringing readers and publishers together in the flesh. She urges book companies to partner with libraries in Spanish-speaking areas to promote their titles.

"Scholastic Books participates in some of our library events and gives one free book for each book purchased," Lugo reportedly says. "Libraries are an ideal venue for book promotions."

She is bully on a continuing demand for libraries and Spanish language books well into the future.

"The United States is a land of immigrants and the constant political uncertainty in Spanish speaking countries will always provide an influx of Spanish speakers to our country," Lugo reasons in the piece. "There will always be a market for books in Spanish in the United States."
 
Her optimism flies in the face of Davlantes, who asks, "With the Internet and e-books, do we really need millions for libraries? They eat up millions of your hard-earned tax dollars. It's money that could be used to keep your child's school running."

Actually, her reasoning may be as wrong for Illinois as it is for Santa Ana.

"In fact, people check items out from Illinios' 799 public libraries 88 million times every year," reports Slate. "One of the country's busiest libraries, the Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago, has 5,000 visitors a day."

But Davlantes has an answer for this, saying her hidden cameras have shown many visitors to that library go straight to the free computers, letting the books on the shelves collect dust.

Maybe they just need more Spanish titles.


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