Thursday, September 05, 2013

Local public libraries - should they go.

People regularly complain about how much they pay in taxes and government charges, but the bottom line is, if we want lower taxes then we have to accept less services from the government. One example is the local library.

We have state libraries, we have libraries at every tertiary educational institution and we have libraries at every school. Then we also have local public libraries. The problem is, since the money comes out of our taxes and rates we often don't think about the cost because we can't control it. I checked the information available on the cost for each person using the local library and the average cost averages at around $100 a year. I've borrowed one book over the past 10-20 years, so when you consider $100 per year, that was indeed a very expensive book. In addition the book was a government produced book which was developed using our taxes and could have just as easily been made available as an ebook.

With library users I suspect we could use the typical 80/20 rule, where 20% of those users generate 80% of the activity. That means most of the people using the library never get value from using the library. If you then add your cost and time borrowing and returning the book/s, the books you borrow for free aren't so free after all.

If you want free reading material there is a wealth of free reading material available on the internet. Amazon has between 30-40,000 free ebooks which is double the number of books you'd find at a typical suburban library. You can obtain the free Kindle Reader software for iPads, Android tablets and Windows and Mac computers. With a small amount of knowledge everyone now has access to a greater range of free resources than offered by their local library. Even if you do decide to purchase an ebook you'll often find it is cheaper than the cost of petrol travelling to and from the library twice to borrow and return a book.

In MyAnswers solution 2282 I share how to obtain free ebooks for your tablet device or Kindle reader. Normally you need a credit card to get free ebooks to your tablet or Kindle reader, but I explain how I obtained the ebooks for free without registering a credit card. That way you protect yourself from inadvertent credit card purchases.

Next time you're paying your rates stop and think for a moment. Are you getting value from your contribution towards the local library? There's a good chance you're not and your hard earned money is going to benefit someone else. Once I realised that having a library card could be inferred that I was one of the active users, I decided it was time to cancel the card. If you're not using the local library and have a library card perhaps you may think about cancelling it as well.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
Call 0415 910 703 for computer support.
Servicing Templestowe, Doncaster, Eltham and the surrounding area.

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