By Marshall Carter-Tripp
We are currently being urged to ask for curbside delivery of a book, to show our interest and support for the libraries.
Let’s consider what this might mean. People with inadequate access to the internet, in many poor neighborhoods of El Paso, are unable to locate books and order them. And if they do not have access to personal vehicles they may not be able to get to a library for delivery even if they can place an order! These same individuals may not have large collections of books in their homes. It is unfair to discriminate in this way!
Many library users have enjoyed being able to browse briefly, perhaps encounter a book of which they were not aware, and ask for information from the staff. None of this is available in the current plan, which offers very limited curbside pickup of a reserved book, and returns at some locations.
Entering a library should not be any more dangerous than going to Albertsons or Target or Walmart – wearing a mask, with limited access for limited time periods – at least for several days a week. Let the “friends of the libraries” show their appreciation – and put some of those furloughed staff back to work!
Other regional cities have reopened their libraries. For example, see what Albuquerque is doing: https://abqlibrary.org/hours-locations. It is shameful that the City of El Paso apparently considers that El Paso’s motto can be “El Paso – The City That Doesn’t Care About Books!”
Marshall Carter-Tripp is a retired Foreign Service Officer who also served as a visiting professor in political science at UTEP and as director of the Centennial Museum.