Friday, September 24, 2010

"This is my refuge"

Hector Tobar has a poignant column in the LA Times about the LA Public Library's new "closed on Mondays" hours, while schools languish and the newest Halo installment had a midnight launch on a school night.

He writes "Game publishers make millions. School systems cut millions. Libraries lock their doors. Obviously, there's something wrong with this equation."


  1. Having attended a Halo: Reach midnight launch event, I will say that the minority (15%) of the attendees were teenagers/children, and most came with their parents. It seemed like it was a bonding experience for them, and that they planned on playing the game together. While I am saddened about the Monday closures at LAPL, I think it is unfair for Tobar to plant all the blame for low academic achievement on video games. The ESRB rating for Halo: Reach is Mature, which means it is geared for 17+, so the idea that Microsoft was somehow subverting school studying by having the launch on a school night seems misplaced.
    I think that one could make this same argument with movies, texting, Facebook, MySpace, and television. At the end of the day, it is up to parents to block these distractions from their homes.
    Perhaps it would have been better for Tobar to delve into the reasons why LAPL has had to cut hours, and look at the city leaders who made the choice to not utilize the millions of dollars already at their disposal to support library services.

  2. Tobar's link between closed libraries and the pernicious gaming industry was, even if not meant to be causal, rather tenuous, I agree! It's definitely parents who need to be setting limits and standards for their kids - but if they are good parents who want to send their kids to the library on a Monday, they're out of luck. And it's not the fault of the gaming industry but of the faulty priorities of our politicians and - yes - of our society at large. No one wants to spend big on libraries and schools, because the pay-off (and there WOULD be a pay-off in the form of less crime and poverty) isn't immediate but might take years to come to fruition, as those children grow up.