In palmier days, the Indianapolis public library system spent like a drunken sailor, turning the old Central Library building into nothing more than an anteroom for a huge (and, IMO, hugely ugly) chrome-plated Brutalist nightmare. Naturally, they got ripped off; substandard concrete work in the parking garage -- oh, and it's the foundation, too -- put the project vastly over budget and behind schedule; as far as I can figure out, neither the blame, who's to pay or that pesky little actual problem has ever been entirely resolved. Taxpayers are on the hook for it and it may yet sink under Downtown's reclaimed swamplands like Atlantis into the sea.
But that was yesterday or last year; maybe the year before. Today, the headline is, "Library system never has had 'cutback like this.'" The grasshopper, having fiddled away the long financial summer on money looted from you and me, is startin' to freeze.* Maybe they can find some gullible type to unload that shiny white elephant on, at ten cents on a dollar? Or it can starve back to something human-scaled, a library with less emphasis on Architecture outside of the 720 section and more on, y'know, books and other media.
Don't hold your breath; among other efforts, they will be cutting back spending on books by a million dollars next year -- and they are asking approval for a property tax shortfall appeal: a tax increase, a way of sneaking around Indiana's property tax caps.
Public libraries: too many are no longer about books or the citizens who use the library but about institutional aggrandizement. Maybe it is time they went away; or at least the big ones did. We'd all be better off if the functions of day-shelter for bums, cheap Internet access and lending books were split up!
* The present Wikipedia gloss on the fable to which I've alluded, you would not believe.
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
6 months ago