by Tammy Hart

In a sense the Internet is the largest public library in the world – so what would attract people to the local library? Are you getting your tax money’s worth for the services and resources your library has to offer? Value-added services are all the rage right now, but what has the librarian done to help you lately? What would motivate the library staff to go above and beyond or to even care whether anyone actually utilizes the facility?

Llewellyn Rockwell, Jr. suggests that public libraries be sold to the highest bidder and be turned into privately owned entities. This got me thinking about what a privately owned library could potentially be in my perfect world. Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. is president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama. He also edits a daily news site,

If I was really thinking out of the box with an unlimited amount of money and time to re-design my own library, I would include more staff than just the librarian. I would hire a very diverse group of people with all different educational degrees and employment backgrounds such as teachers, accountants, grant writers, journalists, editors, and managers, to name a few.

I would extend the hours of operation to accommodate schedules of working people. I would include a coffee shop with plush furniture and round tables for networking. I would stay on top of the technology game–not only providing internet services, but adding several access options, including wireless, cable, dial up, and satellite. I would make it possible for patrons to use these services by signing in under their own accounts.

The federal government hires privately owned, one-stop career centers that are designed to be the initial point for delivery for all workforce investment programs. I would include this in my library, or check into the possibility of supporting some of their programs. I would offer career assessment programs, or I might speak with the local college to see if we could both benefit from a shared career counselor, who could also recruit new students.

I would have private rooms for hosting seminars. I would bring in temporary employment agencies to promote local job openings. I would offer tests to inventory work skills and use that information to promote my community’s skill sets to companies that might be persuaded to move to my community.

I would have products for sale, including floppy disks, CD’s, DVD ‘s, laptop and PC hardware, briefcases, planners, lined paper, spiral notebooks, resume paper, and writing utensils, and many other items that could be found at an office supply outlet.

To summarize I’m talking about a library, book store, coffee shop, conference center, career assessment center, training center, recruitment center, office supply center, a place for networking, and a place where people can go to relax…all rolled into one entity. The idea of having one centralized location for all of these services may not be practical, but its food for thought and I truly believe that we need to put more thought into making practical use of the public libraries in our communities.