A paragraph from a Herald-Times story about the under-construction Monroe County Public Library southwest branch caused me to raise an eyebrow this AM. Here’s the graf:
The building will be 21,000 square feet and rest on approximately five acres of sloping lawns on the southwest corner of Batchelor Middle School, 890 W. Gordon Pike. The interior will offer meeting rooms, computer access, study spaces, areas dedicated for young children and teenagers, and quiet nooks for reading and contemplation. In addition to those traditional services, the new branch will feature a teaching kitchen, all-ages collaborative space and amphitheater.
The article adds that much of the heavy construction work has been completed and the branch remains on schedule to open in May. An Indiana Public Media story dated March 5, 2020, reported an estimated total cost of $9 million for the project.
So, what made me go Hmm? None of the articles about the project over the past two or three years has mentioned the simple word, books. You’ll note, of course, the word is missing from the seemingly comprehensive run-down of the new facility’s features in the graf above.
Books — the things that used to be the main and sole purpose of libraries. Library — from the Latin, liber (plur. libri), meaning book (books).
We still don’t know how many books the new structure will contain, nor how many stacks, how much floor space is devoted to browsing, or even whether the MCPL will invest in a whole brand new inventory of books. MCPL librarians may, for all we know, simply grab a bunch of books from existing MCPL sites and move them to the Batchelor site. Who knows?
Now, I guess, books ranks way down among the list of Reasons Libraries Exist. Certainly further down than, say, all-ages collaborative spaces, whatever in the hell those are.