Better to spend money on library?A depressing...

LETTERS

April 03, 1996

Better to spend money on library?

A depressing juxtaposition of stories caught my eye while reading the Maryland section of the March 26 Sun.

One article ("Deep cuts proposed for Pratt library") reported proposed major cuts that could result in the closing of half the city's library branches. The other ("Logan school sees future going on-line") recounted a partnership between a number of corporate sponsors and state and local governments to spend $3 million to outfit a single elementary school with the computers and associated technology needed to allow each child access to the Internet.

I cannot help but consider this not only a terrible waste of resources, but a totally inappropriate use of technology. Daniel J. Whelan, the president of Bell Atlantic-Maryland, was quoted as saying that every book in the school library would be accessible by computer and that ''some of these things'' (i.e. books) would no longer be needed.

I would like to point out to Mr. Whelan and those who seem to feel that computers are the answer to all our educational problems that without a good foundation in the basics of education, of which reading is the cornerstone, all the computers in the world will be useless to the children as they will never be able to understand the information they are so freely accessing.

In a world of diminishing resources, would it not be a more logical use of corporate funds to support the library system? If the branches can be kept open and the computer systems within them used for information retrieval as an adjunct to the books that are both cheaper to supply and infinitely longer lasting than any magnetic medium yet available, maybe we will allow more than a handful of children to become literate, both in conventional and computer terms.

In conclusion, I would beg the corporations and powers that be to eschew the flashy solution of expensive technology for a few in favor of a return to the philanthropic foresight of Enoch Pratt and others who understood that the availability of books is essential for the education of the populace.

Patricia Bradley Pineau

Glyndon

Dirt bikes wreak havoc in parks

The March 18 letter from John Roemer IV claiming that mountain bikes are not responsible for declining water quality is a complete misstatement of the facts.

One has only to pay a visit to R. E. Lee Park, including Lake Roland, to see how destructive these bikes can be. The object of these riders is to conquer nature by speed and ruination. Never mind that strollers and hikers might want to enjoy the wild flowers, trees, birds and other aspects of nature.

The most egregious harm that bikers do is to ride over steep trails bordering lakes and streams, causing severe erosion. They make trails where none existed before, crushing the vegetation in their rush to conquer. The soil around the roots of trees is compacted, underbrush and wild flowers are destroyed. The result is bare soil. With every rain storm, water washes the soil into the streams or the lake. The shores of Lake Roland are in terrible condition. They get worse day by day, made so by ignorant and thoughtless bikers.

In the fragile Bare Hills section of the park, bikers careen down over the thin, rocky soil and splash through the once-pristine spring-fed creeks, now becoming clogged with silt.

Wet areas of the woods are especially vulnerable. A more or less permanent puddle once existed across one of the woodland trails. Every spring it harbored the eggs of various amphibians. The bikers have turned the area into a rutted mud hole. Once they have created a mud hole, they no longer want to ride through it, so they start splashing through the edges. A foot-wide leafy trail with a small puddle has become a 20-feet wide quagmire devoid of life.

These few examples of the destructive power of mountain bikes should serve to warn all park administrators of their danger. The bikers would do well to purchase their own tract of land, make their own obstacle courses where they can revel in the destruction of their own landscape.

Olga Owens

Baltimore

Medical insurers' big attitude problem

The March 19 edition of The Sun included an article, "Mothers get two-day guarantee after birth." There were two points in the article I would like to address.

First, the story stated that insurers question whether a 24-hour stay has caused medical problems for the mothers of their new babies and said proponents of the extra day "can't prove their case with statistics."

The second point regards the statement of Devin J. Doolan, a lobbyist for Blue Cross and Blue Shield, in which he says he "fears many mothers will elect the second night simply because they are fatigued and not because it is medically necessary." He says, "Somewhere there has to be accountability." I believe that both of these points reflect a serious problem with the attiudes of medical insurers.

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