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October 12, 2012

Books: Frederick's Endangered Species

Harry M. Covert

Being frugal is a good thing. Knowing the cost of everything and not the value of anything is a sign of poor leadership. It's also a bad omen of things to come for citizens of Frederick County when the elected officials decide to censor library books.


They will deny it, of course, but signs loom that the county commissioners have begin nitpicking the library materials purchasing schedule. Obviously, they don't have confidence in the work of the library director.


I wonder if the next step for them is to slowly and sneakily begin to scan over books for removal such as Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, Lake Wobegon, Gray Victory, Ulysses, Slaughterhouse Five, Schindler's List, QB VII, Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Greatest Story Ever Told, God is not Great, All The President's Men, Mein Kampf, Uncle Remus and others.


This is the way politicos jump in and start deciding what should and should not be read.


Bethany Rodgers is a Frederick News-Post reporter and wrote that Commissioner Billy Shreve is "already poring over the list of recent buys." She quoted the commissioner as saying "why should my tax dollars pay for someone else's recreation?"


Heavenly days!


Running the county is supposedly for the betterment of all citizens and that includes taxpayers and non-taxpayers, if there are any.


This kind of thinking isn't healthy. When citizens go to the library, any library, there ought to be freedom of selection, just like there is a freedom of election.


Politicians always like to beat the old saw that schools, police and sheriffs and fire personnel could use the money. Yes, and so do the public works departments, recreational facilities and programs and public welfare.


It ought to be embarrassing to Frederick County residents to be subjected to such circumambiently silly notions as if cutting library material-purchases is going to buy more bullets for police, more water hoses for the fire departments, more bandages for emergency services and other necessities. These services are well protected and secure.


Yes, be careful with taxpayers' money. Where is the common sense? Supervisors should have to make better use of their time and talents? Instead of "poring over" a list of 200 possible library materials to buy, supervisors should be diligent in bringing in more business and industrial development.


Public safety is not improved by curbing education, reading and books. The day is coming, and coming quicker than we think, when all schools and colleges, public and private, will be using computers and Kindles instead of paper books. Society is moving in that direction rapidly. I still enjoy turning pages, writing notes on them; but it's also very easy to carry 40 or 50 books, fiction and non-fiction, in a tiny device. These devices even read out loud with either a male or female voice. I like the latter.


We can't stop progress – and shouldn't.


Supervisors perhaps should begin considering the costs of new books and libraries which will be mandatory for everyone.


And, telecommuting? The day is coming, when county, city and state governments won't need as many buildings. Staff can stay home, collect taxes via the Internet to government accounts, handle building permits, and use video for misdemeanor court cases. Judges will have to be on their benches, but defendants could be in their bondsman's or lawyer’s offices. Public employees will deserve their professional salaries.


May sound peculiar, but the costs could be rather low.


In the meantime, though, commissioners need more trust in the professional staff and let them pick the library materials. Variety is the spice of life.


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