Libraries Offer Plenty For Storms To Stew Over

Libraries Offer Plenty For Storms To Stew Over
By CATHERINE DOLINSKI - The Tampa Tribune - 12/18/2008 - original
TALLAHASSEE - The economy is a shambles. State revenue is in a free-fall. House leaders in both parties stand accused of misusing their political powers.

This week, state Sen. Ronda Storms identified another menace:

The Dewey Decimal System.

Storms, R-Valrico, railed against the book-cataloging system during a budget hearing on state library aid, calling the Dewey Decimal System "anachronistic," costly and just plain frustrating.

The system requires training for both staff and users, she complained. If Barnes & Noble organizes its books more simply, why can't libraries?

"A lot of little old librarians are going to have a heart attack that I even said that out loud," Storms said during Wednesday's hearing. "But it really is ridiculous."

Secretary of State Kurt Browning, who oversees state support of libraries, told the committee that Dewey Decimal is the national standard, set by the Library of Congress.

"The Library of Congress can do what the Library of Congress wants," Storms said. "If it's costing us money ... it's time to wake up and smell the coffee."

Browning spokeswoman Jennifer Davis later addressed the money issue. "Conversion to another system would be very costly," she said.

The senator had another bone to pick as well - over "Seinfeld."

Storms objects to public libraries loaning out copies of TV show episodes.

"If there's one thing this country doesn't need more of, it's more TV," she said. "More books is good; more cultural arts ... but I'm not sure we need more episodes of 'Seinfeld' in our library."

Committee Chairman Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said Storms could propose instructions to insert in the state budget about libraries' specific use of funding. That prompted Storms to speculate about more funding for libraries that agree to spend it on purchases of books instead of TV shows.

That smacks of censorship and micromanagement, said Larry Spalding, lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union.

"It would be wonderful if all children were motivated to listen to Mozart and read things that are educational," he said. "But not all children are the same. Libraries adapt."