Once again, it’s time to talk about the essential services libraries provide that aren’t just books
One of the truly great things about the internet is its ability to know when a bad idea is bad, and then tear it to absolute shreds. Twitter, in particular, is basically designed for this purpose. And boy did it deliver when a columnist wrote for Forbes that libraries should all be replaced by Amazon bookstores.
Obviously, that’s a stupid idea. And Twitter had no qualms about pointing that out.
Columnist Panos Mourdoukoutas, who serves as chair of the Department of Economics at Long Island University, made this argument because (get this) replacing libraries with Amazon bookstores would save people tax money. He argues that libraries are unnecessary because public events have moved to school auditoriums, and people read and hang out at Starbucks instead of the library. He also thinks technology has made books obsolete.
There’s a lot I could say about this, but Twitter already said it all, so I’ll just let the good people of the internet take this while I lie down and hope the vein in my forehead stops throbbing soon.
Finally caved and read this, and it is clear that, among other very valid criticisms, it is written by someone who has never been very broke/needed free stuff. Like, he thinks going to Starbucks and going to the library are interchangeable. https://t.co/V2TinXWsBr
— Inigo Purcell (@inigo_purcell) July 22, 2018
Libraries aren't just museums for books, people. Real life people come there for information on services to try to often save their lives. Info on doctors, domestic violence shelters, help to get jobs. Stop funding everything that rich folk want and leave libraries the fuck alone
— jamey hatley (@jameyhatley) July 22, 2018
know what else saveS folks lives? PLEASURE. There are still people who can't afford tv and streaming services. Maybe grandma just wants to read a juicy romance, maybe your weird uncle on public assistance wants to study ancient gardening techniques. LIBRARIES DO THAT. FOR FREE!
— jamey hatley (@jameyhatley) July 22, 2018
Do you not understand how unbelievably classist it is to say that everyone has a Netflix account or an Amazon Prime account? I know that people who you report on don't worry about those subscription prices, but for many lower income folks those CAN BE luxuries.— 💜Lyndsey☁️R.🖤 (@lyndztanica) July 21, 2018
Basically, the idea that libraries are obsolete because technology can replace books is a whole lot of bullshit. There do, in our society, exist people who have no money and therefore can’t go hang out at Starbucks. Because remember what happens when people (especially those of color) try to hang out at Starbucks without buying anything?
And they might not own a Kindle to take advantage of an ereader. So if they do read, it has to be at a computer. Which, again, not everyone is going to have. Did you know that public #libraries serve *everyone*, including *gasp* THE POOR?— 💜Lyndsey☁️R.🖤 (@lyndztanica) July 21, 2018
Libraries also provide so much more than books, like classes, professional development, free computer and internet use — even a reprieve from extreme temperatures for people who are homeless.
I’m a librarian and this is actually the worst fucking idea ever.— cyree jarelle johnson (@cyreejarelle) July 22, 2018
Libraries by Amazon would eliminate the most important function libraries have—as a socialized daytime service to cash-poor and working class people left behind by digital advances. https://t.co/YqxLgAZQm6
As they are today, libraries are mostly used by folks who don’t (or who are denied access to) daytime economies, particularly homeless/houseless folks.— cyree jarelle johnson (@cyreejarelle) July 22, 2018
There is NO WAY that Amazon libraries would continue to serve homeless/houseless people in this way.
Libraries also provide a stop-gap for where other social services end.— cyree jarelle johnson (@cyreejarelle) July 22, 2018
We teach people how to read. We help boomers and early Gen X’ers learn new technologies and digital skills. We teach ESL and train for citizenship exams. We write resumes and cover letters.
Libraries have evolved beyond books. Ours has social worker librarians who help homeless & low income patrons. They have classes for parenting, ESL, computer & job skills. They offer free flu shots, lawyer & tax assistance. Unlike Amazon, libraries help people.— Mo (@weirdnj_1) July 22, 2018
Poor Mourdoukoutas has been engaging with Twitter, still trying to defend his idiotic take that libraries (libraries!) are the place to cut taxes.
According to an NBC News analysis in 2008, libraries account for about 0.2 percent of tax funding in the U.S. Just for kicks, compare that to 22 percent on Social Security, 20.3 percent on Medicare and Medicaid and 20 percent on military and defense. Compared to 0.2 percent on libraries. And libraries are where we go to cut taxes? Yeah, OK.
This isn’t even the first time someone has suggested eliminating libraries and been verbally body-slammed by the internet. You’d think these rich old assholes would learn, but apparently not.