The more books around, the better

I read the Nov. 19 Letters of the Day ("Little Free Libraries: Neat, but what about big libraries") with interest as a friend and as one who had just deposited some extra children's books at a few such Little Libraries.

I understand the writer's concern. I am a retired youth services librarian, and public libraries have been one of the joys of my life. I believe the cutbacks to our libraries are very shortsighted.

It took me a while as a young mom to realize that I should add a couple of books to the diaper bag along with everything else. A favorite book really could calm a fussing infant or toddler. Bedtime stories helped my sons settle down for bedtime. We now know that differences in vocabulary when starting school constitute one of the big "gaps." And we know that quality picture books for toddlers and preschoolers are packed with wonderful new words. We also know that children watch and follow adults and their habits. If parents read — and read to their children — the children will be much more likely to be drawn to reading.

Little Free Libraries offer passersby the opportunity to stop and impulsively pick up a book regardless of means or the press of schedule. It gives children one more place to see excitement about a book. I believe that the more good books in more places in our community, the better for our children and for us all. There is a mutually enforcing energy they offer; I believe all libraries nourish and complement one another.

Rebecca Strauchon, Minneapolis

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I just moved into a house and built one of these free libraries out of scrap wood. I think the decentralized nature of these Little Libraries is what is important; anyone can share something, and anyone can take something and, if they like, simply give it to a friend. I have been writing and self-publishing for 20 years, even published by small presses, but have yet to be included at the government-run library, despite sending free copies. In the Little Free Libraries, I can share my writing with the community. As a bonus for you and a headache for the NSA, the Little Free Libraries do not keep a record of what you are reading.



Sometimes donors have to withhold

As a longtime donor and volunteer at the Wildcat Sanctuary, I must disagree with the writer of the Nov. 18 Letter of the Day ("Don't conflate a cause with how it's managed"). The facts are that there has been serious mismanagement of finances and personnel at the sanctuary. I have seen the reports and have spoken with employees (now ex-employees), donors and former board members. There clearly are terrible problems. While I hope that the cats are being cared for, I know that people — employees, donors and volunteers — have been treated horribly.

This is an organization that forced all employees to sign a gag order not to speak to the public and has locked out its volunteers. The reason is obvious; the board has a lot to hide. It is now in a full cover-up mode.

A board that manages by firing all of its employees clearly knows nothing about the management of a charitable organization. A board that won't issue audited financial reports, meets in secret and keeps no record of actions taken does not meet its fiduciary responsibilities.

Until audited financial reports are issued and board meetings are open to the public, this organization should not have the support of the public.

JAMES SENDEN, New Brighton


The hit to the middle class? Automation

I read with interest the Nov. 10 article by Stephen Young about losing the middle class, and I read the letters published in reaction to it. In my opinion, nobody seems to understand the real cause. It is technology, innovation and automation that is replacing the middle class. We have simple and inexpensive robots, computers, word processors, printers, lasers, automated assembly lines and lights-out factories. We have affordable farm and construction equipment that can do the work of a dozen people. The repetitive, simple tasks will either be automated and done by a machine or sourced worldwide to find the least expensive labor to do the job. This is what is replacing the middle class.

JIM RYS, Minneapolis

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What Paul Krugman calls a "permanent depression" ("The new normal — you're not going to like it," Nov. 19), I would call the end of the age of growth. Economic contraction may be unthinkable to many, but it is what the Earth is demanding of us now. We are witnessing the consequences of unrestrained growth on a finite planet, threatening the very conditions that make life possible, and the Earth is forcing our species to learn to live with less or face extinction.

We can find joy in this, for a meaningful life is found not in acquiring things but in helping others. As our world shrinks and daily activities become less global and more local, we will rediscover our purpose in a new age of sharing, cooperation and interdependence.

KURT SEABERG, Minneapolis