Friday, August 28, 2009

250 Words: Statistical Sources

Let me describe some of our "users." I hesitate to call them "patrons," because the do not support the Library, nor "customers," because they don't use the collection except within a narrow scope. This does not describe everyone who comes into the Library. I call them "users" because they use the computers and nothing else.

These people are addicted, in a broad sense, to the Internet, movies, games, pornography. They come because they gain free, unencumbered access to their addictive substance of choice. They don't have to pay for it, are not questioned, or held accountable to anyone for their time or their persons. They have learned the system, and when the system does not meet their addictive expectations, they become angry, sullen and antisocial. Their body language shouts they care nothing for anyone around them, especially staff. They will not read a book (except for graphic novels, aka., comic books), or a magazine (except for Mad).

We let them do this because we gain something from their coming through our doors and using our equipment. We get statistics. See how many people use our computers, for how many hours, in our facilities. If it weren't for them our statistics would be dismal, and we might lose money from those who hold the purse-strings.

We "need" them as much as they "need" us. They feed their addiction, and we use them to make us "look good" without the collection actually being used.

Co-dependency is NEVER healthy.

Gerald F. Ward

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