Today I found an interesting article called "Hayward libraries to borrow Netflix model", which talks about a controversal decision approved by the City council which will allow customers to check out a limited amount of materials without any late fees and fines for a small monthly fee.
For a monthly fee, library users will be able to check out a limited number of materials for an unlimited amount of time. The optional system will eliminate due dates and overdue fees, asking for money upfront in return for no worries later. Pricing would begin at $2.99 a month for up to three items out at a time
I am sure that many will object the Hayward Libraries model because libraries have always offered their services for free and this is a main part of their mission. So the question is does everything in
public libraries always have to remain free?
I don’t think so. And I will tell you why. In a world where Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster and Barnes & Nobles exist and customers can quickly get a hand on the desired book and DVD, or rent one for a dollar per day, we need to offer more competitive ways to attract customers to our popular materials. We can’t afford to loose customers to any of those commercial establishments, simply because we are not able to buy or deliver on time the most popular books, CDs and DVDs.
One example of such service is the Dallas Public Library (DPL)and its StreetSmart Express program, which charges customers $5 for access to select books, DVDs, and audiobooks. ( I am not sure if the service is still available, since I was not able to find any information on their website).
What do you think? Should libraries charge for services or not?