Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Littlefield's secret plan to do for literacy what he's done for recycling?

Now that Ron Littlefield has lost interest in dismantling Chattanooga's recycling program, has he turned his sights on a secret effort to get out of the library business?

An article in Monday's paper let slip a little tidbit that I found rather interesting:
Karen McMahon, a city employee who has been working on the task force, said officials waited to appoint members to determine the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's plans for its new library.

Theresa Liedtka is the dean of Lupton Library at UTC, where a new $48 million library is scheduled to open in 2011. She is unsure if the university and the city-county library will collaborate in respect to building infrastructure.
Now, why would the city need to wait to hear about the University's library plans when the public library already has its own facilities? "[C]ollaborate in respect to building infrastructure"?!? What does that mean? Clearly, since the funding for the University comes from the state, the mayor would not be so bold as to expect to get out from under his own budget item by just foisting off the responsibility onto someone else. Not only is it a silly suggestion (where would people park when visiting a library in the middle of a busy campus? would all citizens have to pay for library materials, many of which are currently financed not by the taxpayer, but with student fees?), but anyone who has visited both a municipal and an academic library knows that it's not a workable idea. A university library and a public library have completely different collections of books, serving entirely different purposes. Paul Public won't care about having 25 different texts on particle physics, any more than Stella Student will need 40 copies of the latest Dan Brown novel.

But word on the street is that this is exactly what our Mayor has in mind for Chattanooga's libraries. And further, that he doesn't believe in transparency of government any more than our nation's Decider, since he's scheduled a secret meeting for Thursday lunch to debate the future of the city's library system. And it's by invitation only. Only handpicked citizens will be asked for their input.

Or at least, that's what I hear. Can anyone confirm or deny? So far, none of this has managed to find its way onto the record, which is perhaps just what Littlefield had in mind.

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