• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Further removed

One possibile recommendation of the governor's commission on government restructuring is consolidation of public libraries and the elimination of small and mid-size library systems. This has upset those in charge of the Westchester Public Library:

WPL director Phil Baugher said anything a library might save slightly in overhead would be offset by the cost of merging disparate automation systems. There would be a cost to convert WPL information, catalog collections, and patron and transaction records.

Under a WPL consolidation there's no guarantee local programs and polices would be maintained, added Baugher, and also at risk could be staff, collections, service hours and even facilities.

[. . .]

“Each library serves a unique community. I believe successful libraries must be in close contact with the communities that they serve,” Chapelle continued. “Whether or not consolidation saves money, I am opposed to any measures which would remove or reduce local governance of libraries. I believe that libraries must retain strong roots in their communities.”

I have a lot of sympathy for the idea of streamlining government; we have more elected officials than any other state, and government could be a lot more efficient with fewer units. But efficiency isn't everything. People who worry that their concerns won't be addressed by a unit of government a little further removed from them raise legitimate questions. It's hard to grasp that when we're talking about a city-county council instead of two separate legislative bodies. But most of us can understand wanting our libraries to figure out community needs and desires and addressing them.

Of course, consolidated libraries would be able to assemble much better basketball teams, and we can't overlook that factor in Indiana.