Lots of libraries must impact seriously on the public purse.
Lauderlakes, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, has a plethora of library branches. The one I visited was small, neatly organized and fairly busy for a Monday afternoon…30 people or so.
The library’s most popular and most used area was the computer workstations area with the dozen seats all occupied. The computer users were mostly young people, late teens and youth in their 20’s. Hence, the computer screens displayed games, fashion sites and even some provocative material that some might label soft porn. To each his own. The area is monitored by a retired elementary school teacher who assists users and screens the material being accessed.
The games users, only two at the time, were playing military war games which involve street chases with machine guns and swords. The users both had earphones so nearby users were not distracted by the noise of the games.
Another user, assisted by the staff person, was completing a resume for a job application. He was likely in his 30’s approximately and very reliant on the staff person for assistance. The support person stated that many of the library patrons at this branch lacked extensive education and broad computer skills. Therefore, most of them were very dependent on the staff support person for help.
Staff input describes the Lauderdale Lakes area as lower to middle income earners, but emphasized that the residents here were very cognizant of belonging to a community. They seem caring of one another and this is reinforced when dealing with any of them as they speak with respect and deference.
The community is predominantly black in population and those who are homeowners, show pride of ownership with well-manicured lawns, neatly trimmed hedges and shrubbery. One owner, a burly black man working on his yard on one of the cooler days stated that the outside work was demanding but on a cloudy cool day, very enjoyable. His open garage showed the man to be incredibly organized as everything in the garage was hung, shelved and organized in an orderly fashion. “I like things to be in their proper place,” he said. It was an understatement. Most homes reflected the same sort of pride.