Friday, June 12, 2009

WIRY Commentator Needs Rewiring

Two groups of people you never eff with: librarians and library patrons.

Recently Ducky Drake, in-house bloviator at WIRY radio, said in a commentary that the Plattsburgh Public Library should be closed down.

Of course, WIRY radio is a for-profit entity, supported by advertiser dollars based upon its audience ratings. The library is non-profit, supported by taxpayer dollars.

And so there’s the problem: Why should taxpayers support the city library?

Ducky claims that other libraries in the city – such as the Plattsburgh State and Clinton-Essex-Franklin libraries – can take over after PPL closes it doors. He implies that the Plattsburgh Public Library is simply a duplication of the efforts by other libraries.

Wrong-O, Ducky-O.

Case in point: PPL’s public access computers. Those computers see a lot of use, especially for those stuck on the wrong side of the digital tracks. I don’t see Plattsburgh State being able to handle the demands of both students and non-students. And CEF doesn’t offer free public access computers.

But Ducky contends that all services now provided by PPL can be had at other libraries. Just throw some money at the other libraries and you can still save a lot.

Let’s face it: the other libraries would have to expand and re-modify their spaces to accommodate more patrons. More people would have to be hired. Any savings would be eaten up by those changes and the additional bureaucratic red tape.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul. And Satan laughs his ass off.

Ducky admits that there has been an upswing in the patronage numbers at the Plattsburgh Public Library. Or to put it in his terms: PPL ratings are going through the roof.

Apparently he heard about that Press-Republican newspaper article that stated the economic downturn has meant more people are trying to save money by borrowing books, tapes, and DVDs free of charge. It probably came to his attention when a fellow employee was skimming the paper to harvest copy for WIRY’s next “news” broadcast.

Anyway, logic would dictate that increased usage should mean more money, not none at all.

The Plattsburgh Public Library has always been a low-priority for the city. For years I documented on my blog how the front entrance to the PPL was falling apart, the steps crumbling away. Orange tape and spray paint marked the danger spots. It looked like something out of war torn Baghdad.

The penny-wise but pound-foolish city would patch up the steps, filling in the cavities, and they just kept disintegrating. It took a major effort to fix them.

That’s the main problem with the city: it wastes money on nonsense while ignoring its infrastructure. It either does cheap temporary fixes, paying more in the long run, or blows its wad on impractical projects like that white elephant called the Crete Center.

The Public Library is a practical operation. It works.

How many free services does WIRY provide to the public? Then again, it’s supported by advertiser dollars, and all it cares about is the bottom line.

Maybe Ducky is joshing a bit, hoping to goose WIRY’s ratings to rake in more ad bucks. I called the station and I gathered there was been a bit of response to his anti-public-library commentary. Like I said, two groups of people you never eff with. I’m in the second group.

If Ducky is serious, then I have this advice for him:

Cover your head with an aluminum foil hat. Prolonged exposure to WIRY’s transmitter has damaged the wiring in your brain.


Otto Maddox said...

Here here Luke! This was my short response to Ducky. What an ignoramus...

This is your worst idea ever. Have you ever been to a public school library to do research? It's about as useful as a canoe without a paddle!! And while the public can go to the Feinberg Library, only students can check out materials and use inter-library loan. Ducky, I submit that your last commentary is the best evidence for why closing the library is such a terrible idea. It demonstrates how ignorant the public can become when they no longer have access to a quality library. Your grossly misinformed "bright idea" is the result of little or no research. Go get a library card and read a book before your only option is to pay $20 at Border's. Which makes me wonder: how much did they pay you for that commentary anyway? I'm sure that they would be more than willing to cover that 10% you were so generously willing to forgo in lieu of denying the people and children of our city one of the few resources they have for empowering and educating themselves. I think you need to go back to the drawing board... they have a good one at the Library.

Ginny Brady said...

I appreciate your reflections and hope you don't mind my mentioning your post in my response to Ducky.

Ducky Drake, I did not hear your "Is It Just Me" piece which was broadcast last week on wiry. I was able to get the sense of your ideas from three different people who did hear it. One is our Library Director, Stan Ransom, who sent me his response to you. Another was a citizen of the city of Plattsburgh who expressed his opposition to your views and a third was a local blogger (see ) whose criticism of your outrageous suggestion is quite clear. It is interesting that you chose this week to suggest that the City of Plattsburgh could save money by closing our public library. Perhaps you saw the report on NBC news last night which described the value our public libraries provide and the use they are getting in our current difficult economic times. Public libraries, like PPL, have provided citizens with a venue to job search, communicate, recreate and research which no other single public service has done. I would challenge you to give an example of another public service which provides as much to its citizens as the library does. You suggest that the city could save money by closing the Plattsburgh Public Library and that services could be taken over by CEF Library and/or the library at PSUC. Neither has a mission to provide research facilities, book borrowing or computer use to the citizens of Plattsburgh. Our library is also designated as the the central library for the entire north country region giving us an important role in the intellectual and educational life of our region.

As a volunteer member of the Plattsburgh Public Library Board of Trustees, I have seen library use grow over the last two years. Mr. Kelly who attends our board meetings as a representative of the Common Council will tell you that in spite of this added usage the library has operated on a "bare bones" budget. This is to the credit of Mr. Ransom and the staff at the library. I have never heard any citizen, city manager or politician ever question the worth, efficiency or effectiveness of the library.

Mr. Ransom has provided facts which, I hope, will enlighten you. I'd also invite you to attend one of our Library Trustee Meetings which are open to the public and would add to your knowledge of the value and work of the library. These meetings are usually held on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 4:30 PM in the 2nd floor meeting room.

Virginia Brady
Plattsburgh City Taxpayer and
Member of the Board of Trustees, Plattsburgh Public Library

Luke T. Bush said...

Otto And Ginny:

Thanks for your comments.

I did send an email to Mr. Drake with a link to this post. So far no response. Maybe he'll reply on air during his next commentary.