Showing posts with label First Amendment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label First Amendment. Show all posts
Friday, July 2, 2010

There is More than One Way to Burn a Book.

Library Bashing, Ray Bradbury & Fox News Chicago: Opinion

Anna Davlantes, a Fox Chicago News anchor, picked a fight with librarians, book lovers, and the First Amendment, last week when she posted an editorial with the incendiary headline, "Are Libraries Necessary, or a Waste of Tax Money?" [reproduced at end of post]

"With the internet and e-books, do we really need millions for libraries?"  Ms. Davlantes wrote. "[S]hould these institutions -- that date back to 1900 B.C. -- be on the way out?"
Now more than ever libraries need funding. Open access to libraries is essential to our intellectual and political freedoms. The libraries in Alexandria burned down more than four thousand years ago. What followed were the Dark Ages. While essential infotainment tools, by their very nature, television and the internet de-emphasize the quality and provenance of information. The need for reliable and credible resources of information elevates the job of information specialists to an essential service.
If Ms. Davlantes were to get her way, books wouldn't be banned. Rather, access to them denied. Millions of Americans - children and low income families - are suffering due to the lack of affordable and reliable broadband access. Realistic choices can only be made in the light of adequate information. Public libraries, which are comprised of curated bound and digital assets, provides that light. Readers, browsers, writers, civil libertarians, republicans, democrats, and television journalists need to join together to support our public libraries - especially in this time of unprecedented unemployment and disinformation.

Ms. Davlantes is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. A native of Chicago, she grew up in Rogers Park and is a graduate of Lane Tech High School. Her favorite book, but for the wrongs reasons, is likely Fahrenheit 451.  While not exactly the book burning fire captain from Bradbury's classic ("Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs.... Don't give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy."), she scares me. 

Parenthetically, Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 on a rental typewriter in the basement of UCLA's Lawrence Clark Powell Library. He found refuge from his small house and two smaller children at the library. Close a library, maim a community, perhaps, render a future classic stillborn.   
Ray Bradbury on  Fox TV --  Boy, is this Ironic!
In a 2007 LA Weekly interview, Ray Bradbury, while sitting in front of a giant TV tuned to Fox News, talked about how Fahrenheit 451 was greatly misunderstood. 
Fahrenheit 451 - 1995 publication“Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was,” Bradbury says, summarizing TV’s content with a single word that he spits out as an epithet: “factoids.” He says this while sitting in a room dominated by a gigantic flat-panel television broadcasting the Fox News Channel, muted, factoids crawling across the bottom of the screen.
His fear in 1953 that television would kill books has, he says, been partially confirmed by television’s effect on substance in the news. The front page of that day’s L.A. Times reported on the weekend box-office receipts for the third in the Spider-Man series of movies, seeming to prove his point."
Almost sixty years on, Fahrenheit 451, which was once science fiction, sadly, now appears to have been prophesy.  


Are Libraries Necessary, or a Waste of Tax Money?

Updated: Wednesday, 30 Jun 2010, 1:46 PM CDT
Published : Monday, 28 Jun 2010, 9:53 PM CDT

By Anna Davlantes, FOX Chicago News

Chicago - They eat up millions of your hard earned tax dollars. It's money that could be used to keep your child's school running. So with the internet and e-books, do we really need millions for libraries?

Libraries are quiet havens for the community. They take us to other worlds. They even make us laugh. But should these institutions -- that date back to 1900 B.C. -- be on the way out?

There are 799 public libraries in Illinois. And they’re busy. People borrow more than 88 million times a year.

But keeping libraries running costs big money. In Chicago, the city pumps $120 million a year into them. In fact, a full 2.5 percent of our yearly property taxes go to fund them.

That's money that could go elsewhere – like for schools, the CTA, police or pensions

One of the nation's biggest and busiest libraries is the $144-million Harold Washington Library in the Loop. It boasts a staggering 5,000 visitors a day!.

So we decided to check it out. We used an undercover camera to see how many people used the library and what were they doing.

In an hour, we counted about 300 visitors. Most of them were using the free internet. The bookshelves? Not so much.


We know we spend a lot on them. But libraries do bring in some revenue: more than $2 million in fines is collected annually by Chicago public libraries . . .