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