America’s Libraries under siege from the Patriot Act, “Showcase libraries,” funding and more; plus, the quest for quiet against the noise of modern life in Utne Magazine

America’s public libraries could be on the verge of losing their hallowed place on the cultural foundations of democracy. Explored in detail by Utne magazine librarian Chris Dodge in the summer issue (July-August), Dodge cites some disturbing trends in the funding, operation and building of libraries, while Senior Editor David Schmike and others offer in-depth stories that examine the details about noise and its impact on society and individuals.


For Immediate Release

Link to select stories at:
http://www.utne.com/magazine/newsstand/utne130_knowledge-for-sale.pdf?;?http://www.utne.com/magazine/newsstand/utne130_monastic-librarians.pdf?;?http://www.utne.com/magazine/newsstand/utne130_turn-up-quiet.pdf

Minneapolis (PRWEB) July 10, 2005 -– America’s public libraries could be on the verge of losing their hallowed place on the cultural foundations of democracy. Explored in detail by Utne magazine librarian Chris Dodge in the summer issue (July-August), Dodge cites some disturbing trends in the funding, operation and building of libraries, while Senior Editor David Schmike and others offer in-depth stories that examine the details about noise and its impact on society and individuals.

*•Schmike looks at the psychological impact noise has on people and the environmental threat “aural debris” poses to, at the very least, the performance of songbirds who literally “have to sing up to 14 decibels louder to rise above traffic noise.”

*•He also discovers in select interviews and a book by P.M. Forni (Choosing Civility: The Twenty Five Rules of Considerate Conduct) that all this clatter might simply be symptomatic of a society that has dulled its senses, become uncivil – and disengaged individuals from the here and now. According to Forni, our abhorrence with the void and the fear of emptiness could be driving all the racket we’re making. “I believe that we often overuse electronic gadgets for the same reason that we spend innumerable hours shopping: We do not want to be left alone with our thoughts” he says.

Maybe we all need to read a book – from the public library – while we still have them.

Utne’s Chris Dodge looks at that unsettling proposition in “Knowledge for Sale,” as he dissects the disturbing trends in one of America’s most enriching institutions and one pillar of our democracy.

Libraries are under siege at different levels and for many different reasons:

*•The Patriot Act: The prying hand of post-9-11 government is already at play, opening library records to more scrutiny and “turning library workers into surrogate federal agents.”


*•Showcase Libraries: Dodge says the new “trophy libraries” being built in places like Minneapolis, Salt Lake and other locales could become “corporate-sponsored edutainment” centers that could standardize offerings and limit choices (more bland collections, less street newspapers and pamphlets), creating a kind of censorship driven by money concerns.

*•The Internet: The digital age (and the mistaken notion that Google is the best reference source in the cosmos) threatens the library through the allocation of more money for workstations and computers and less for books and magazines, plus it could turn the library into a “pay for view” model for downloads of materials – and change new librarians into technocrats rather than keepers of the cultural memory whose respect for knowledge on a book shelf is critical.

*•Funding: A list of places where public library budget cuts have threatened public learning and enculturation are cited, including John Steinbeck’s hometown of Salinas, where the city’s three libraries were slated to close until a local and international outcry kept them open.


Also in this issue:

*•Renegade “Monastic” librarians; R. Murray Schafer -- Master of modern soundscapes; and Hell Is Other iPods: The aural loneliness of the long-distance shuffler

*•The Cable Guy: The Utne Interview by Anjula Razdan taps controversial funny man Bill Maher on stand-up, terrorism, gas prices and turning 50

*•The digital impact on movie making and distribution

*•Ayurvedic methods to eliminate allegories, indigestion and other ailments

. . . and so much more . . .

         
About Utne
Utne is a national progressive lifestyle magazine with an audience of nearly 600,000, now celebrating more than 20 years of publication. Since 1984, Utne has been a leading voice for the alternative and independent press, bringing readers the “other side of the story" on issues ranging from the environment to the economy and from politics to pop culture. Utne provokes thought and inspires action by offering the best of the independent press as well as original writing. Read more at www.utne.com.

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Source :  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/7/prweb258923.htm