Musings on Someone Who Clearly Needs to Watch More Arthur

Despite what the above video would suggest, libraries are dead.

Or so says the Internet, at least.  Most recently, this guy, who used to live across from a library—key term being “used to”, because it’s gone now.  Not that he cares:

Frankly, I will not miss the library.

Even though I lived right across the street from it for many years, I never went inside. I never sat in its reading room. I never checked out a book. I never explored its stacks to go through old volumes of bound periodicals in some research project.

He then proceeds to wonder why anyone would use a library when they have the internet and mocks the idea that the replacement library will be “a place for gathering people, giving people the opportunity to encounter each other….”

Here’s the thing, Michael Rosenblum.  You’re… well, you’re kind of wrong.  Actually, you’re really wrong.

First things first: not everyone lives in a very tall building not far from Rockefeller Center, and your statement that “the internet is free” belies the fact that you clearly don’t know how privileged you are.  The internet is only free if you ignore the monthly bill and the upfront cost of the shiny Mac you’re working at, and if you’re able to ignore that then you’re probably using a public computer.  At, say, a library.

Next: if you’re only doing research at the library, then your life is sad.  I currently have two volumes of comic books, three novels, and a DVD checked out from the public library.  None of these are for research; all of them are awesome.  If you’re getting these from the internet, then you’re either spending a lot of money on ebooks or you’re stealing.  If the former is true, please see my previous point about privilege; if the latter, you’re a jerk and should stop that.  And if you’re doing none of the above and spend your time only doing things that can be done for free on the internet, I feel bad for you.

Finally, I’m not sure why you mock the idea of the library as a gathering place.  I met my first Oregonian friend at the public library.  There’s usually more socializing going on in my university’s library than there is studying.  People don’t just read at libraries—they attend talks, they meet friends, they play games, they hang out.  In short, they gather.  This is neither new nor damaging to the idea of the library.

In short, Michael Rosenblum, there are a lot of things happening at the library that you can’t see from your shiny apartment, and it wouldn’t hurt to look into some of them before writing them off as relics of a bygone era.

And by the way?  Harry and Hermione and Ron went to the library for research because the Internet doesn’t work at Hogwarts.  If you’d like to check me on that, I bet I know a place where you could find a copy of the book.

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One Comment

  1. Many good points! I can’t believe how many (foolish) people think everything is available on-line. I work in a specialist library and hardly any of the material I work with is on-line, the only place in the world to see a lot of it is right here. And that’s on top of all the other points you make about the social side of libraries.

    Reply

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