Late this evening I caught the tail end of some griping on Twitter about the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter. Some complaints and my replies:
"The app is not free" "You need $$$ to subscribe"
You know what else isn’t free? Libraries. Other things that aren’t free inside of libraries? Everything. Books, movies, magazines, database, computers, staff, HVAC, electricity, everything. Someone pays for these things whether it is taxpayers, foundations, or other funding organizations.
Even when RR was on the air, SOMEONE was paying for it so that it could be part of public broadcasting. The PBS Fairy did not wave a wand and made the show appear. It was free to view because someone was footing the bill. The RR program that will be available to disadvantaged schools for free will be paid for by subscribers, a model not unlike public television and radio.
This kind of thinking is in stark contrast to shitty track record librarians have for making subscription deals. “Yeah, the RR app should be free. Hang on while I cut another check to a vendor for their overpriced bundled journal packages.”
"That money would be better spent on libraries"
Really? How? To close spending gaps? Sure, I can think of many libraries that could use that money to help stay staffed and open, but even that amount is a band-aid solution to a longer term problem.
And spent on libraries how? To help pay for… stuff? A computer lab or makerspace for some decently funded library or basic materials and collections for a vastly underfunded one? That should be a good fight over where the money might work best. A million bucks is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but a drop in the bucket compared to the overall US annual library budget expenditures.
Nothing uglier than naked jealousy.
"I don’t like the prizes"
I wonder how those prizes stack up against the average summer reading prize, either for adults or children or both. But as a NJ lifer, if you don’t like the prizes at a booth on the Boardwalk, move on to the next game.
Ostracizing RR on the basis that it isn’t the perfect program to get kids excited about reading is a huge mistake. Libraries are not in a position to cast aside allies these days, so everyone counts. If anything, we should be looking and learning from the RR Kickstarter as to what motivates people to give, what works with motivating young readers, and how underprivileged libraries can be part of the RR network. That’s a path forward, not this ‘Achilles sulking in his tent’ business.