Wednesday, April 11, 2007

National Library Week

I am not a fan of television news shows, especially the ones presented by the three largest networks in the United States, and least of all of CBS News since Katie Couric was placed in the big chair. That's why I missed the bit of a stink over at CBS last week when one of Couric's producers blatantly plagiarized a Wall Street Journal column, even as to having Couric present the item in a first person voice that gave every indication that the words were her own. The producer in question has been fired and Couric, of course, skates free with nothing but a little egg on her pretty face.

The original Wall Street Journal column, by Jeffrey Zaslow, is actually a rather poignant piece that is particularly timely since we are fast approaching National Library Week (April 15-21).
We hoped our girls would see the library as an oasis where they'd learn to understand themselves and the world. But truth is, like many computer-obsessed kids, my daughters don't visit the library as often as we had hoped. They usually turn to Google if they want to research something.

For parents and grandparents, it's hard to accept that young people today often feel little connection to the local library. We recall the libraries of our childhoods as magical places; getting our first library card was a rite of passage. It saddens us that younger generations seem more eager to buy books than borrow them, or that they consider libraries just another tool for acquiring information.
Sure, there are still library-loving children, but books aren't necessarily the draw. Many gravitate to the rows of computer terminals. And libraries are offering more children's materials and programs than ever, with attendance growing at events such as story hours, ice-cream socials and movie nights. Suburban kids, especially, often use libraries more for DVDs, story hours and computers, because their parents buy them books, according to a 2005 study by the Association for Library Service to Children.
Many kids, of course, skip the library and head right for the store. Sales of hardcover juvenile books rose 60% from 2002 to 2005, to $3.6 billion. Yes, that's an encouraging sign that kids still value books. But today, they own books in part because of society's "insatiability" for material things, says Mel Levine, a pediatrics professor at the University of North Carolina Medical School.

Meanwhile, with most teens turning first and foremost to the Internet for schoolwork, students are arriving in college unable to navigate libraries. At Minnesota State University Moorhead, collection-management librarian Larry Schwartz finds himself explaining to students that books are shelved by call numbers. "There's concern in Libraryland about how we should serve these people who grew up with computers," he says.
So thanks to a foolishly lazy producer at CBS News I became aware of an interesting article. I suppose that I should be grateful for that, but the level of sheer stupidity and dishonesty involved here makes me wonder how in the world a person with so little sense can possibly reach such a respected position. If you're interested in more detail on what happened on the news show just click on this link. Unbelievable.


  1. I can understand the concern voiced in this column about children and libraries. They should know how to use them and would hopefully be excited to visit. But I also don't see a problem with them purchasing books, as I very much enjoy buying a book myself. I suppose it's all in the balance between borrowing and purchasing, I try to use both the bookstore and the library.

    As for the producer at CBS News, things like that don't really surprise me anymore. I guess I've become a little jaded.

  2. I certainly enjoy owning my favorites, Matt, but I'm wondering about kids who never see the inside of a library because they buy disposable copies for themselves. At least they are reading, true, but they have no clue as to what they might be missing because most bookstores are extremely limited, even the largest ones, in what they are able to provide for purchase.

    I agree about the news producer...not really surprised at all, especially at CBS.