Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Books · WHO’S READING?
. . . .


A.C. McMullen - September 20th, 2011  
Marcia Warner on the future of libraries

Libraries offer equal access to information; and in a democracy you need a breadth of ideas as you don’t want to get all of your news or information from one source, so libraries are that democratic institution that keep the playing field level.

When she’s not spending free time at her home in Northport, you’ll find Marcia Warner serving as director of the Grand Rapids Public Library system.

According to Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist, bestselling author and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, America’s economic future will be rooted in the “Imagination Economy.” In his new book “That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back,” Friedman suggests that “imagination and creativity” will play a vital role in accomplishing economic greatness.

“We need to invent and innovate our way out of this crisis and imagination is the single most important competitive advantage we have today as a country,” Friedman stated in a recent address at Northwestern University.

One place the country may want to turn to as a primary resource for economic resurgence is public libraries. Just ask Marcia Warner who recently became the president of the nearly 12,000-member Public Library

Association (PLA) in the United States.

“Libraries are always thinking ahead, we are always trying to stay ahead of the curve and so we are placing ourselves in places where people have needs. Who can get through the day without good information about something?” said Warner.

“Over the past 30 years libraries have been creative in our approach to remain relevant. Libraries are in a sense one of the few places left in society where a free flow exchange of ideas exist.”


Warner is the director of the Grand Rapids Public Library system that includes eight urban libraries. She has been a library director for 34 years (graduating with a Masters of Library Science degree in 1977 from the University of Michigan) that included stops in Vassar and Saginaw before taking the Grand Rapids directorship in 2004.

Warner, who spends weekends and vacations at her second home in Northport, has seen libraries evolve in terms of how they serve their communities.

“When I started, libraries were about the book brand. It was a place for people who liked to read,” Warner said. “Over the years libraries have become an integral part of training the public around the use of the various technologies, we have become a place where people go to learn how to use their Nook; the salesman at Best Buy is not going to spend an hour with you showing you how to use it. We have become the community meeting place. Social networking has a component that is beyond texting and data, you need a community meeting place and libraries have become that.”

As for the advent of the Internet and other technologies having an adverse impact on library usage, Warners says it is actually having the opposite impact.

“The Internet has helped on several fronts with Google being a great example. For example, look at the first five pages of a search and maybe only two items found are decent. You spend all your time wading through crap that is not relevant to what you are looking for. Well, if you use your local library databases you will find paid databases with information you can trust and you don’t have to trudge through dozens of commercial sites; instead you are able to cut to the chase quicker.

“I think with the Internet out there that sometimes people forget that there is good solid information available at their public libraries and that the shelves are full of complete information on a subject matter.”


As for library usage, numbers are up for several reasons.

“In a down economy libraries are used more than when things are going well. They have become the de facto free Internet access for people who do not have computers at home or smart devices,” said Warner. “Library usage is at an all-time high right now. All levels, classes and cultures have gotten used to using resources, whether it is human resources such as librarians assisting with searches, or book resources from libraries.

Most libraries now have downloadable audio and e-books through your library card, so even if you never come through that door having that library card is an important piece of accessing information.”

One common misconception some have is that fewer people are reading today; Warner disagrees with that assessment.

“First of all, you have to read to use the Internet. Secondly, for the past five-plus years more books are being published each year than the prior year, so publishers are not going to be publishing if no one is going to be buying and no one is going to be buying unless they are reading. So I think in general people are reading more now than they were 15 years ago.”

She is also excited to see younger people using the libraries.

“The younger generation, those under 20, really get libraries; they are reading pretty esoteric stuff. The graphic novels these kids are reading, those thought processes in those novels are pretty advanced and quite sophisticated,” said Warner.

“For the younger generation it has become cool to be part of a library; it has become cool to become a librarian. We are getting some great students coming out of information science programs at universities. In particular students are interested in information architecture which is how you put data and information together. There are jobs out there for those with information science degrees, Google hires librarians, all companies that deal with information and research hire librarians.”


As Warner and the PLA look towards the future of libraries they see several areas to play a role in serving their communities.

“Right now a big focus for libraries are e-books as an aggregator of material. Also as government shrinks and the resources that government are able to provide shrinks, libraries will be an important resource to offset this.”

Warner also sees libraries as the last bastion of offering equal access to information.

“Libraries offer equal access to information; and in a democracy you need a breadth of ideas as you don’t want to get all of your news or information from one source, so libraries are that democratic institution that keep the playing field level,” said Warner. “Another role for libraries as we look to the future is the concept of the ‘civil society.’ You are hearing that term more and more in how do we get back to discussing ideas and seeing another person’s point of view. I think in our country whose politics have become so divisive libraries are going to play the important roll of the town hall where all viewpoints are covered.”

The PLA does not mandate the decision process public libraries use for acquiring the materials they offer their users; this is left in the hands of the librarians and standards differ from community to community.

“Part of what a librarian learns in obtaining their master degree is selection… finding the breadth of ideas out there. Because there are not just two sides to every issue, there might be 20 sides to some issues, so as librarians we have a responsibility to find all those sides,” said Warner.

“That is why you need a librarian not a volunteer choosing your materials. I had a professor once say if it is published it should go into a library, but that in reality doesn’t work. I know some small community libraries that do have R rated films. Every librarian has to know community standards and assess materials from that perspective. For example there may be material that is acceptable in Traverse City that otherwise might be unacceptable here in Grand Rapids and vice versa.”

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5