Sunday, July 11, 2004

385 Do Libraries Have Obligations to the Rich?

I asked this question over at, but no one suggested a referral or a link. Are there any library documents out there on the responsibilities or obligations of librarians to serve the rich?

In this country, we have more rich than poor, and perhaps some of the rich can thank libraries (and probably do through endowments and certainly through their real estate taxes and help with bond issues) for their good fortune.

When I was at Ohio State, my library had the largest endowment of any of the dept. libraries. Before he died, no one knew the donor had money, and no one knew he had a soft spot for the veterinary library. So no one cultivated or recruited him--which was my good fortune, incidentally.

Just what are libraries' responsibilities to the rich, if they really are supposed to serve all? Wouldn't the poor be served best if the rich were well taken care of? And just who is rich and what is a luxury? Thirty years ago, I couldn't afford a microwave or a VCR. Rich people buying them soon made them affordable for me. The last microwave I bought was about $49 and the new VCR under $50.

Check out this fairy tale. It tells of a man who wished the rich would lose all their luxuries, and got his wish much to the disruption of his own life.

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