What with wrestling with the Renaissance world, struggling to complete Peace Hill Press’s upcoming middle-grade writing and grammar curriculum, and fuming over my local library’s unreasonable new policies, I haven’t posted too many updates recently.

Updates on the Renaissance world and the writing and grammar program shortly. For today, the next volley in the library battle. (I call it a volley. So far as I can tell, my shots are evaporating silently into the ether.)

January 8, 2011


Susan S. Geary
Jean Van Tol
Sarah Houghland
Lynda Byrd-Poller
Suzanne R. Mellen
Mary H. Norment
Vickie Herrick
Bill Porter
J. H. Willis

Now that the holidays are over, I would like to renew my plea for an explanation over the board’s refusal to consider a fee-based system for out of county residents.

Those of us who have used and supported the WRL system for decades are aware that funding is tight. But we would like to continue our support of this library system.

Could you please explain why a fee-based card is not being made available?

I can only think of two reasons. First: that the per-card fee seems unreasonably high and so was not even presented to out-of-city residents as an option. If that is the case, please tell me: what would the projected per-card fee be? If the decision was made on this basis, numbers must be available.

Second: that one of the current participants in the library system has threatened to pull funding if cards continue to be offered to residents of the nearby counties. As you must be aware, rumor has it that York County has made exactly this threat. If this is indeed the case, this should be public record–not least for the residents of York County. If not, York County should be exonerated.

Is there a third reason why fee-based cards are not under consideration?

I have received no answers to my previous emails. Emails sometimes go astray, so if a response is not made, I will be happy to send this request by registered mail or raise it at the January 26 meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Please be assured that I share with other concerned residents of Charles City, Surry, and New Kent a sincere desire to help the WRL Library System in its current crisis.

I would also like to continue to express my concern over the effect this will have on the Williamsburg economy. Today, I registered for a library card at the Richmond Public Library. This is much further away from my home than the WRL system, and in no way is my local library. However, until the current WRL policy is changed, I will be taking my family to the RPL instead. This means that the regular day we have always spent in Williamsburg–shopping, eating, visiting Colonial Williamsburg and making purchases there, buying gasoline from local stations–will be spent in Richmond. My consumer dollars and sales tax will support Richmond’s economy instead.

I have always taken pride in supporting Williamsburg’s off-season economy, and I regret very much that I am now forced to remove this support. I hope that it will soon become possible, once again, to take our regular library day in Williamsburg–as we have been doing for the last thirty years.

I would be happy to receive an answer which is not a form letter.


Susan Wise Bauer

Showing 10 comments
  • Heather Q.

    Hope you get something other than a canned response. I bet you’ll have to take it to the meeting.

  • Claudia

    Hi Susan,

    Its unfortunate and heartbreaking to have such a basic need taken away and not even getting a credible response.

    On another note: Mix honey and lime (lemon) and give it to your symphony players. I have dealt with this with my three boys for years and somebody suggested that medicine. It helps a LOT and also as a preventative.

    Good luck!

    Claudia Stine

  • dangermom

    This is so disappointing. I’m a librarian myself and I’m appalled by all of this.

  • ClassicalEnthusiast

    So perhaps history set to your favorite classic rock tunes is in order?

    (via the New Yorker Magazine Book Blog)

    “The History Teachers create music videos of their favorite pop songs, replacing the original lyrics with lyrics based on classic books and historical figures. They get all dressed up and dance around, sometimes on location, often in front of a blue screen. It’s awesome. I could totally become a groupie. Witness “The Canterbury Tales (‘California Dreamin’ by the Mamas and the Papas)”—and be sure to wait for the rap interlude:”


    Their main site:

  • Ellen

    I breathlessly await the committee’s response. It’s outrageous that they continue to ignore your (and those from other people, I assume) concerns and attempts at meaningful discourse.

  • Ellen

    Another thought: I hope you’re allowed to speak at the meeting. I say this in light of recent happenings at my county’s school board meeting, wherein parents opposed to the new school calendar were not allowed to speak at the PUBLIC meeting. In fact, one woman was actually escorted from the podium by a police officer when she attempted to address the board. (The calendar does not affect my family, since we home educate, but I was still appalled at the board’s conduct and wondered at the legal implications.)

  • Nicole

    I am assuming the library board is appointed, not elected. We are trying to get that changed here and believe it will make a huge difference in the way the board treats the public. Unfortunately, board members are often unaware of the real problems (and solutions) of the institutions they are supposed to be in charge of.

    Libraries w/ memberships, such as the Mercantile Library in Cincinnati, Ohio, are very effective at meeting partons needs and have exceptional service. I realize this is different from what you are working toward, but I just thought I’d mention it.

  • Cheapirish


    The answer to your question is number 2. And the reason it won’t be said outloud is those on the York BOS who oppose funding WRL would deny it. Yet they would pull funding if a paid card system would be put in place.

    The answer to question 1 would be in excess of $100 per card per person just to offset the $400K in lost York funding. And that card price is probably low.

  • Jim M. Gau

    Dear Ms. Bauer:
    Recently I picked up a copy of your excellent book, “The History of the Medieval World”, and found it to be a most pleasurable reading experience indeed (actually, I am still reading it). Within just a few chapters, I knew I had unearthed a real gem, and felt I wanted to explore your writing in this genre further, and so contacted my local bookstore and ordered it’s companion volume, “The History of the Ancient World”. How inspiring to find such a wide-ranging and well-researched volume! I wish to thank you as a person who reads history books for pleasure-reading for this great gift you have given to those who wish to pursue their knowlage of history more expansively than the amount of material presented in most common formal history classes, which sadly, I find drastically lacking. Keep up the great work, and good luck in your future literary endeavors!
    Quite Sincerly Yours,
    Jim M. Gau
    Hancock, Michigan

  • Jozie

    Couldn’t you get the HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) or the Thomas More Law Center to assist you by giving the library a “legal” nudge?-the rights of all who use this library and who live in this town are being infringed upon.

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