This morning I was looking through my Twitter feed when I came across a very disturbing article. Without giving it too much credit, the article basically championed the nonsensical idea that libraries should be replaced by Amazon bookstores. Here is the full link for the article:
I don’t want to give it a pretty graphic or anything. To say that I am disappointed is an understatement; I am actually pretty pissed off. When was the last time the author stepped foot in a public library? I am guessing not recently. I was just there on Friday. My library is a bustling hub of books, computers, and kids activities. But, instead of writing a scathing blog post berating this man’s idiotic idea, I just want to talk about all the wonderful aspects of libraries that the article’s author has clearly never experienced.
Libraries are so much more than a place to get books. Here is a small offering of what my local library has going on: (I don’t see this on a Starbucks event calendar)
- Free Breakfast (which is offered everyday) not every child where I live gets breakfast.
- Job Help (job searching and resume help)
- Knit and Crochet club
- Computer application classes
- Reading help (I will explain more why)
- Math Mondays
- Spanish Class
- English Class
- Toddler Storytime
- Baby Storytime
- Jewelry Making classes and clubs
- Block Parties
These are only the events currently on the event calendar. This doesn’t mention the tax preparers and estate planners, or the voter registration drives that the library hosts. My library also allows patrons to checkout out DVDs, audiobooks, ebooks, and digital movies ALL FOR FREE. No, I am not naive: tax dollars pay for the services of libraries–but when looking at my monthly tax bill COMPARED to the amount I would have spent on Amazon, the tax cost is much cheaper and I get much more. Streaming services such as: Amazon prime, Netflix ,and Hulu all cost per month. Then, add the fee for internet service. Where is the cost savings for the taxpayer? This sounds like a revenue opportunity for Amazon more than a service to the literary community.
I hope the author’s children are lucky enough to have a well-stocked school library–many schools in the city I live in don’t. I have seen lines of children holding hands walking back to school from the public library with books tucked under their arms. The youngest child who lives in the same habitat that I do doesn’t have a school library. We visit our local library to check out books in order to keep him reading and to help finish reading assignments. This is an educational imperative.
Reading help is one of the most important things that libraries in my city and county are doing. In my city 1 in 10 adults can’t read above a grade 5 reading level. I want to let that one soak in- A. Grade. 5. Reading. Level. This means that 10% of adults can’t read at a level where they can understand a contract. Luckily our libraries partner with literary connect to help setup programs for adults to learn how to read–lets see Amazon and Starbucks do that. I live in the 6th poorest metropolitan areas in the country…83% of pre-K children walk into Kindergarten already at risk. I would much rather give my money to library to help with community projects then give my money to large corporations where none of it is going to stay in the community.
So, to the author I would like to say shame on you…It’s crazy…I literally don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone try to get rid of libraries by arguing for capitalism. What the fuck dude? I think the author needs to do a lot more research before putting an article out there that dismisses libraries. It’s not just piece of bad journalism, it’s a threat to the entire literary community.