http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2012/04/25/letter-cut-downtown-plan-not-the-library-staff


Almanac

Viewpoint - April 25, 2012

Letter: Cut downtown plan, not the library staff

The city of Menlo Park needs to stop throwing money at the ill-advised downtown plan and support our city services instead.

Case in point: our library hours and staff have been cut back again and again, and now I learn that the city is about to do away with library staff service at the circulation desk altogether, and plans to install an RFID checkout system instead.

These systems are riddled with problems and are hugely frustrating for library patrons. In addition, they expose people to yet another source of radio waves — the last thing we need.

Instead of adding to the $1.5 million of our tax dollars that the city has handed over to the consultants who came up with a plan for our downtown that only a developer could love, let's fund our library staff.

Otherwise: imagine waiting in line for the privilege of using the automated RFID checkout, opening every CD and DVD you wish to check out, and putting them one by one into a slot so they can be read by these machines, which are notorious for breaking down and/or not working properly.

Imagine missing the opportunity to interact with a familiar library staff member, who may not only remind you that your library card needs renewing, but also may comment on a book or film you're checking out, or make a recommendation regarding a book or film you never heard of.

The RFID checkout plan is a lose-lose proposition. The community loses, the library loses, the library staff loses.

Not long ago, our council gave well over $2 million to Menlo-Atherton High School to help build its Performing Arts Center. This has been of nearly no value to our residents.

Let's be wiser with our money. Let's jettison the RFID plan and keep our library fully staffed. Let's preserve what we have — it's worth preserving.

Cherie Zaslawsky, Downtown Menlo Park

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