Sunday, April 9, 2017

Standing Out is Not an Easy Thing for Central Branch to Do

In an email sent on April 8, we're told that Sacramento Public Library is a finalist -- one of a goodly number of finalists -- for the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Science.

With the continual denuding of the third floor of Central branch of its once-upon-a-time satisfactory number of tables and chairs -- in an ongoing very stark effort to make known to homeless users of the branch that they are unwelcomed -- it would, for me, be an outrage if the library system were to win anything from anyone this year.

SPL doesn't have the mettle to deserve this Medal.

Sacramento Public Library is nice, but its less-than-welcoming attitude toward the homeless is a huge deal.

SPL should correct its unfriendly ways toward homeless people and inform the Museum and Library Science folks that it will strive to be worthy of being a finalist for the medal NEXT year. In 2018.

Hating a contingent of users of a library is not something that wins over hearts and minds.  And the continual unwillingness of Administrators at Central branch to do anything helpful about the third-floor problem, is a Silence that Speaks Volumes.

The branch already has a dark history of hating homeless people, based on its deeds in years past to remove benches in front of the library where people could wait for the branch to open its doors.

Some wonderful benches that were installed when the branch first opened were replaced by less friendly benches and, then, for whatever reason, those benches were replaced by two long green benches that had no back to them, which were replaced by two small green benches with no back. One of those two benches was removed. And, then, a year or so ago, there were no benches -- just as there are no benches now. [See the Sacramento Homeless blog post "Homeless Hating by Design, and the Sacramento Library Benches Rip-Out of 2010."]

An addendum: It is likely little known by today's Sacramentans that the downtown branch of the Sacramento Public Library (now known as the Central branch) was first built with funds from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. In 1914, $100,000 [then, an awesome sum] was spent to create the then-called main branch, which is now the remodeled portion of today's now-called Central branch where special events are held.

Carnegie, known as the father of modern philanthropy, made his fortune as a robber baron, using many nefarious means to amass spectacular wealth. In his old age, and after his death, he decreed that the lion's share of his fortune be spent to create buildings that aid people. Over 1600 libraries were constructed in America and yet more were built around the world. Carnegie funds were also used to construct concert halls, theaters and art centers. California has an especially high number of libraries funded by Carnegie's Foundation. The downtown Sacramento branch received special citation for the design and beauty of the building.

One thing Carnegie loved was the idea of having an abundant space for children to use such that they could come to love books and read proficiently. Carnegie would surely love the lower level at Central branch, today, and how that space is utilized.

The idea of free public libraries was dear to the heart of Andrew Carnegie and his wife Louise. Having made most of his fortune in the steel industry, Andrew Carnegie was committed to helping those who strove mightily to get by and their offspring. Constructing public libraries suited Carnegie as the best way to give struggling people a means to help themselves. A big library, that benefits from proper planning -- e.g., having enough chairs and tables for people to use, for crying out loud -- can be a beautiful thing.

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