On July 21, 2018, economics professor Panos Mourdoukoutas wrote an article in Forbes suggesting that Amazon should replace libraries to save taxpayers money. I, like a vast majority of people within and outside of the profession found the idea poorly thought out and needlessly inflammatory. It would appear that little actual research went into the article (some good data on the economic impact of libraries is available here).
Taking to social media to voice my opinion, I found Library Twitter once again up to the task.
It’s the digital divide, stupid:
You assume everyone has a computer and internet access which isn't true. The digital divide still exists. It's unlikely that Amazon will help people with their reference inquiries or evaluating which sources are creditable and which are not.
— Katrina Zwaaf (@KZwaaf) July 22, 2018
What about early literacy?
What about research?
Exactly how is Amazon going to help me navigate the various paid databases that I access through my public library? Is the clerk going to help me track down an obscure reference for my research? Is the store going to help preserve records of my community?
— Amy Johnson Crow | Generations Cafe podcast (@AmyJohnsonCrow) July 22, 2018
Libraries. Are. More. Than. Books.
So when's the last time you went to a library? Did you know that they run code clubs? Literacy programs? Cooking classes? 3D printing maker labs? Did you know that school auditoriums aren't easy to rent (or cheap)? Whereas we're free to EVERYONE? https://t.co/PNMfLdncGk
— Lyndsey R.💜⚪️🖤 (@lyndztanica) July 21, 2018
And that's only the books! That completely leaves out computer use, research assistance, genealogy, homework help, community space, tutoring, dvds/cds/audiobooks which can also cost more than a library yearly tax, and frankly the expertise in recommendations.
— loud mouth feminist dyke IT'S LEO SEASON (@JeanniInABottle) July 22, 2018
My library helps people navigate the healthcare open enrollment. For free. Also, cooking classes that teach nutrition, story hour for children, homework help for kids and teens. For free.
— katherine fritz (@katherinefritz1) July 22, 2018
Cost to individually buy the six books I have on hold this week: $70
Amount the Altadena Library Special Parcel Tax cost me this week: 75¢
Someone help me budget this, I'm not the chair of an economics department.
— Gwen C. Katz (@gwenckatz) July 21, 2018
Did you hear the one about the economics professor who thinks that buying books at Amazon and paying for coffee at a "third space" is cheaper than taxes? He writes his own punchlines (and publishes them in @Forbes)
— Ellen Hampton Filgo (@efilgo) July 22, 2018
You think Amazon would open a bookstore in a community of less than 20,000 people?
— Warner B. (@elpulpopacifico) July 22, 2018
You state things like (and I paraphrase) “people use their Starbucks card more than their library card” without citing sources or data. Your argument is thin and specious, and I do think you know it.
— Nick Kolakowski (@nkolakowski) July 22, 2018
Ever heard of fake news?
My dude, as fake news & poor information literacy combine to erode our democracy, libraries remain a vital institution. Let's not outsource an essential public good.
— Nick Tanzi (@Techie_Lib) July 22, 2018
Congrats to the professor on reminding everyone of the essential, irreplaceable role libraries play in society!