Libraries, and other wastes of time

The following is the text of a half-page advertisement placed in the Winters Express newspaper of February 20th. It was paid for by the “Save Winters Committee” of Winters, California.

A new library will end up costing the people of Winters over $30 million in new taxes… And for what? A library that is only used by less than seventy people a month. It would be far cheaper for Winters to hire taxicabs and send people to the University of Davis Library than for us to pay millions of dollars to entertain a few people.

The fact of the matter is that very few people use ours or any other library. Oh sure, supporters will bring out children to cry, “We need a new library.” But where are those children any other time? Watching television, visiting friends, or doing something else besides reading. A new library opens up the door for a bigger and bigger Winters. A big new library is a great sales tool for developers. A new library will help Winters become just like other drug cities like Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Jose. They have new big libraries… Do you want to live there?

The world is changing. People like to watch things on television and video. We must understand that libraries are going the way of the local milkman, cheap gas, and small towns.

If the friends of the library want a new library, fine. Let them spend their own money and build it themselves. Don’t make the rest of us pay what few dollars we have left to make them feel good.

—Reported in Harper’s Magazine, June.