Maybe it was a trick instead of a treat?
On 31 October, 2016, Greta Von Susteren sent out the following tweet on Twitter:
Colleges should stop building vanity projects like huge libraries and billing students-full libraries are on our smartphones! https://t.co/QBeVKZvIKZ
— Greta Van Susteren (@greta) October 31, 2016
Considering the legion of librarians and library patrons on Twitter, this tweet provoked quite a response. Some responded that the digital divide (in which some people have ready access to computers and technology, while others have little access to technology, due to finances, and the only computers they have access to, besides those in the library, are their smartphones) makes libraries indispensable. Others noted that the changes in teaching modes and tools could require a new building, as that picturesque library building built in 1910 doesn’t have the wiring, much less the outlets, for 65 new desktop computers. The president of the American Library Association noted that librarians are trained to be able to discern information from knowledge, something which Google cannot. And, of course, there were comments on the fact that not everything is online, that libraries were less “vanity projects” and more “centers for collaboration, study, and research.”
Von Susteren feels that the increase in college tuition and student debt is due to the construction on buildings such as libraries. Yet some pointed out that the culprits were more likely administrative bloat and athletics. (Interested in seeing the highest-paid public employees in each state? I can guarantee you that they aren’t librarians.)
While it’s laudable that Von Susteren is concerned about the high price of college, she is chasing after the wrong culprit. Libraries, and libraries that are well-equipped and meet recommended standards play a great role in helping to create the kind of citizens that everyone can be proud of. It’s a little hard to do that on an IBM386 with a 1200 baud modem buzzing in the background while students read encyclopedias from the 1950’s or, worse, gather information from a Wikipedia entry that was just “edited” by a spiteful ex-spouse.
Back to the drawing board, Ms. Von Susteren.
(Credit to https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/11/01/librarians-criticize-greta-van-susteren-after-vanity-projects-comments for many of the details)