CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. — The Library Advisory Board in Citrus County met Thursday night to discuss adding a digital subscription to the New York Times.
- Citrus County Library Advisory Board met to discuss ongoing New York Times subscription issue
- Citrus County Chamber President Concerned About NY Times Fallout
- New York Times Digital Subscription Sparks Debate in Florida
This issue made national headlines after comments from commissioners when it was addressed during their October 24 meeting, one calling the publication "Fake News."
The issue was never voted on during that meeting.
Physical copies of the New York Times are available at the county libraries for people to read, along with other news publications, but this is the first time the county has looked into adding a digital subscription as well.
Both Commissioner Brian Coleman and Chairman Jeff Kinnard agree the political comments made at the October 24th meeting distracted from the true issue, whether having a digital subscription to the New York Times is cost effective.
“This one we kind of lost it going through that conversation where we lost everything that we really should have been focusing on,” Coleman said.
“That sort of re-directed the conversation and as the chairman at that time would have been a good time for me to re-set the conversation and try to re-direct our thoughts and comments,” Kinnard added.
Next week, Coleman is proposing the idea of having only a digital subscription and getting rid of the physical copies of the paper, with the idea that it would give more people access for the cost. He says it would also save a few hundred dollars a year.
"You’re a card member you can view at home that will take care of anybody that is home bound,” Coleman said. "Do we want to spend more money than we would with the digital for only really a small amount of people that actually go to the libraries and read it."
Kinnard is hoping to hear from the library director next week to get more information.
“I believe that the question needs to be discussed or the issue that needs to be discussed is whether or not it’s appropriate for the county for county taxpayers to be buying a group subscription to any news outlet,” Kinnard explained.
Commissioner Jimmie Smith was not able to meet with us in person, but did give us a statement saying “Taxpayers should not be paying to add a paid subscription. All news topics are available online for free through websites and many apps, TV, and radio stations.
He continued to say “If people in the community wish to pay for that access through their contributions, I support the library system working to facilitate that to happen.”
Commissioners Ron Kitchen and Scott Carnahan did not reply to our interview requests Thursday.
During Thursday’s Library Advisory Board meeting, people packed the room to give their thoughts on the New York Times digital subscription issue for nearly two hours.
Some were completely on board with going digital and frustrated by commissioners' comments.
"That is the way of the world it's a digital world,” Lucille Tompkins-Davis said.
“It really disturbed me that elected officials would choose to make an issue like a library expanding their digital resources that they would make that a political issue,” she added.
While others aren't convinced it's the right move.
"I want them to really think this thing out before we get it because of money and cost. I'm conservative but I think they should offer both sides the New York Times and another," Richard Tomlinson explained.
The library staff say the Times has one of the easiest digital platforms to use, which contributed to their decision to propose the subscription.
The Library Advisory Board voted to create a report and send their recommendations to commissioners before Tuesday’s commission meeting.
They also plan to send a summary of the comments made tonight to commissioners as well.