Obama’s plan for needs tested library books…where have I heard that before? ;)

Obama’s plan for needs tested library books…where have I heard that before? 😉

Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong…and sometimes, you are just ahead of the curve. 😉

About two and a half years ago, I got one of the most…oppositional responses I’ve ever gotten to this post:

What should the role of public libraries be?

In it, I reiterated something I said in the blog about a year before that…on February 3, 2013:

Random House continues its commitment to unrestricted public library lending

In that one, I said:

“I still think that what may happen in the future is that all of the publishers may allow e-book lending…and a needs-tested basis. In other words, for people who are “certified poor” in some way (one possibility would be proof of enrollment in some appropriate government program, such as food stamps), the publishers would allow them to borrow e-books for free.

Publishers could do that directly, or might do it through a public library system or even through retailers like Amazon.

Publishers have always donated books (and gotten write-offs for it), and I think they would participate in a program like that.”

That might not have been the first time I’d brought up that idea in the blog, but it’s a clear statement of it.

Well, President Obama recently basically announced that plan:

FACT SHEET: Spreading the Joy of Reading to More Children and Young Adults

They’ve gotten commitments from the Big 5 USA trade (trade books are the ones  you bought in bookstores…not textbooks and such) publishers (Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan) to make e-books available to low-income children through an app.

Those are also major e-books (including Dr. Seuss)…and I think many of them are not currently available to the general public through public libraries (as e-books), or have pretty serious restrictions put on the libraries.

There’s also a push to get libraries and schools connected to high speed internet (at least 99% of them) by 2018

Whitehouse.gov ConnectED

through the ConnectED program.

Add to that working to get every kid a library card, and yes, that’s pretty much what I thought would happen.

I just thought it too soon. 😉

Actually, I didn’t make any kind of prediction as to when it might happen, and I thought it might take a while.

In the intervening time, more tradpub (traditional publisher) books have gotten into public libraries (although it’s felt like they’ve been dragged, resisting all the way in some cases), and restrictions have…loosened.

I’m still okay with the idea that low-income people could have access to free books that people with more income pay to get.

Now, I totally get the idea that a public library should be all of the world’s information available to everyone equally for free. That’s certainly the ideal.

I just don’t think it’s achievable at this point.

I also still think that if the Obama administration were to say that the Big 5 needed to make those books free through public libraries without needs testing, it simply wouldn’t happen.

I’d rather have some people be able to get them that way than no people.

It also seems like a practical investment to me.

There is evidence that kids exposed to more books end up making more money (and perhaps paying more taxes to the government).

Hm…I’d be interested to know if that doesn’t have a sort of saturation point.

My intuition is that, if you take a child with access to zero books and give them access to 1,000, it makes more of a difference in earning potential than if you take a child with access to ten thousand books and give them access to 1,000 more.

That’s just my guess, though…don’t have the studies to back it up.

Having this happen for the kids makes me feel good…and yes, I’m glad I suggested it here in the blog.

Gee, maybe if I last long enough, that idea I had decades ago for a decimal time system will catch on.

I’m not holding my breath on that one…not even for a kilosecond. 😉

What do you think? Is this program a good thing? Will it really happen? What difference does it make to give a low-income child access to books versus a child of means? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


3 Responses to “Obama’s plan for needs tested library books…where have I heard that before? ;)”

  1. Marjorie Says:

    I think its a good idea. I do wonder if low income children will have access to the equipment needed for reading ebooks. I also wonder if younger children will enjoy ebooks. I have two toddler boys and neither of them have been interested in ebooks due to formatting such as the type being too small. I do most of my reading on my kindle or my phone and while I love adult ebooks, I buy my kids paperback or hardback books.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Marjorie!

      I see I could have been more explicit. The point of getting the high speed internet to schools and libraries, in addition to some other initiatives, is partially to give low income children access to those resources, even if they don’t have computers or EBRs (E-Book Readers) in their own homes.

      They could read a book in the library, but some libraries also loan devices which they can take home.

      As to your kids…is that on tablets? I’ve been pretty impressed with the way many children’s books can be more easily read on a tablet…the words can pop up, and in many cases, can be read aloud when touched.

      Children’s e-books didn’t really take off, I think, until they moved beyond the typical grayscale, no animation EBR.

  2. Round up #306: Overdrive “page turners”, KU gets a Big 5 publisher (slightly) | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] or otherwise unable to purchase. That sort of plan was announced, as I reported earlier this year: Obama’s plan for needs tested library books…where have I heard that before? ;). However, since that isn’t generally the case, I feel bad taking using up one of the […]

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