Reading between the lines of the Wright fiasco, OR, Noise and libraries don’t mix

December 10, 2009

File this one next to “War & Peace” on the shelf.

The latest we’ve reported this week is that a group of people who want to keep the historic Ventura library open are now going to the Grand Jury to investigate wrongdoing leading to the library’s closure last week.

They say that city officials mismanaged funds and lied about the funds they had which could have kept the building’s doors open.

The City Council and library reps say that the money ran out years ago, and that Venturans had plenty of opportunity to save Wright by voting for the failed Measure A … if they had bothered to read the ballot language closer.

That’s the problem. I mean, is it just me, or does the Wright Library fracas seem to be about everything but reading and literacy?

This comes at a time when the Friends of the Library diligently appeared each week in front of the city council, for meetings on end, pleading for people to show their support for local libraries by taking out a library card.

On top of that, the FOL and its prez, Will Thompson, showed their own support for Measure A by not only campaigning on behalf of the 10% benefits from the proposed sales tax, but raising enough money to pay for 5 months’ rent, to boot.

Now, the Grand Jury petitioners blame those backing the library system, claiming they haven’t done enough. Yet, if we had just a little bit of literacy from Ventura residents, Measure A could have passed and the Wright Library might still be open for business. Instead, for the first time in city history, it’s now an indefinite book repository.

How much of the problem is really about the books, anyway? All the time in the world we see and hear the noisy clamoring of groups loudly campaigning for some special cause, whether its PETA for animal rights, student radicals for peace, or now, in Ventura, a group calling itself “Library Justice.”

Yet more often than not with these groups it’s always less about the issue at hand than it is about themselves. The FOL wouldn’t have upped their library card campaign if readership wasn’t down.

Let’s face it: most paper publications are at an all-time low. Everyone uses the Internet, and e-readers like Kindle were designed to re-introduce people to those foreign objects called “books” with that stuff called “writing” on the inside.

If Venturans really cared about reading books and our library system, they’d have voted for Measure A. They’d take their pens, stop filling out their Grand Jury claims, and instead fill out a library card. And like any good book, they’d move the plot along by supporting the other libraries in Ventura, and stop fixating on a building that’s closed, dead and buried. Because the story must have an end.

And they’d stop making so much noise about the Wright Library, because somewhere, there’ll be a librarian ready to shush them up.

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