Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Signal Knows Best

Permission to Speak

When it comes to speaking out against the takeover of Santa Clarita’s libraries, The Signal’s editorial board members are ambivalent[1]. They actively encourage critics to participate in the Santa Clarita Citizens Public Library Advisory Committee (SCCPLAC, pronounced “scuh-PLAK!”). But outside of that committee, they’d prefer everyone just shut up.

That’s because your opposition is unfounded, the result of being manipulated by “misinformation and scare tactics". The board writes, “Criticism grew from a calculated effort by labor union leaders […] inciting library patrons with dishonest doomsday messages. Patrons were understandably frightened.” Eek!

You didn't back the County of Los Angeles Library System because it has ably served Santa Clarita for decades. No, you were scared into your position by thuggish librarians intent on spreading literacy with a side of lies. Meanwhile, it was Mayor Pro-tem Marsha McLean who offered a refreshing message of hope: "Cracks are forming!"[2]. You heard about severe restrictions on inter-library loans, the potential for new fees, and the loss of one-of-a-kind resources, but this was propaganda spread by questionable sources, like the County Librarian. You just lacked the basic reasoning skills necessary to critically evaluate these misleading messages. Thank goodness Leon and the gang at Creekside are on the case.

This widespread ignorance also explains why the dozens of comments given at the City Council meeting on the library takeover didn’t matter. According to The Signal editorial board, “They [the City Council] didn’t need three hours of testimony. Were their minds made up before the meeting? Yes…” You may think you know what you want, but it's best to let the City Council and The Signal (their opinions typically indistinguishable) decide what's best for you.

Curiously, while the editorial board knows what’s on your mind right now (fear, confusion, misinformation) and what was on the minds of councilmembers, they don't know how you want to customize Santa Clarita's new library experience. Perhaps that’s why The Signal deems it acceptable for people to participate in the Santa Clarita Citizens Public Library Advisory Committee.

On the Vital Importance of the SCCPLAC

The editorial explains, “The committee is tasked with assessing the specific needs of the community and transforming those needs into a strategic plan.” We are a singular community, after all, and there must be a lot of guidance to ensure that our diverse, unique needs are met. Where else in America does there exist a city populated by seniors, working professionals, college students, and families with young children? How can we meet the community’s unusual demands for both the classics and popular, contemporary materials? Is there any place else quite like Santa Clarita, where the people want their libraries modern, convenient, and comfortable?

Clearly, the SCCPLAC will need to put in long hours to make certain that Claritans’ exacting requirements are met. With headquarters located in exotic, far-off Los Angeles and mere dozens of staff members living in Santa Clarita, the county system was hopelessly out of touch with what was happening in the SCV.

The timing for convening the SCCPLAC couldn’t be better, either. Had it been formed in, say, July, when there was some debate on whether Santa Clarita should let the County of Los Angeles or LSSI run its libraries, there would have been problems. The committee probably would have wanted to debate the issue for more than one evening and might have considered the opinions of the thousands of Claritans who expressed opposition to the takeover (opinions based in confusion and fear, of course). How much better it is to form the committee once the big decision has been made. Now they can focus on important matters, like whether to dedicate a nook to rotating displays about our rich local history and how to best recruit the volunteer labor on which LSSI relies to maintain its profit margin.

While the guidance of the SCCPLAC will prove invaluable, its most important task will be to provide a veneer of legitimacy for the library takeover. No longer will it be a takeover that four elected officials rammed through against overwhelming public opposition and with inexplicable haste. It will be a transition under the advisement of the dedicated and creative members of the Santa Clarita Citizens Public Library Advisory Committee, a transition to a library system specially designed for the unique and wonderful people of Santa Clarita. Yippee.

[1]Here is the editorial, heavy on clichés, long dashes (14 of ‘em!), and condescension.
[2]Thanks to The Signal commenter "August" for this hilarious insight.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, you are so cynical. A veneer of legitimacy? You have tried and convicted these people, who haven't even been chosen yet. Is there no possibility that the people chosen will contribute something valuable to the process, giving a voice to those who regularly use the library?