[I]t’s impossible to see a world where we keep libraries open simply to pretend they still serve a purpose for which they no longer serve.
Well, white dude with I’m guessing considerable stock in Google, is the library just there for your needs or purposes?
Maybe you enjoyed your exercise in wordplay and making points already made. But what was your point again? Books make libraries so without books libraries aren’t libraries? Books look different so libraries can’t be libraries? Libraries look different so libraries can’t be libraries? You don’t need libraries for books so we don’t need libraries? I’m sorry, what?
Oh but wait, we’re pretending? Pretending what? Pretending there’s an access divide? Pretending there’s a digital divide? Pretending information illiteracy? Pretending folks lack job skills? Pretending college students need help with citation (BAHA HAHAHAHAHHA)? Did I get a Masters in Pretending? I MEAN I DO HAVE A GREAT IMAGINATION SO I PROBS GOT STRAIGHT A’S. OR P’S FOR PRETENDING. I’m sorry, what?
Also read this from BeerBrarian - The End of “The End of Libraries”
On Sunday, October 14th, yet another “End of Libraries” piece appeared. Per usual, it was written by a white male with no use for libraries, because every single time this trope appears, that’s part of the author’s demographic background. Beyond that, it’s a crucial part of the author’s background. It is overwhelmingly affluent white men who argue that because they do not use something, it has no value for anyone. Libraries. The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. Affordable health care. It’s the same argument.
"The internet has replaced the importance of libraries as a repository for knowledge." Ah, yes, because you can trust everything you read on the internet.
Republicans play this game all the time. “I don’t need it, therefore it’s not important and we should get rid of it.” I can vividly remember the last time I was in a library. It was three weeks ago. I needed to do research and the material I needed was not online. Not every book is completely indexed in Google Books. And yes, an ebook is cheaper and faster than buying a physical copy of a book - but it’s harder to skim through an ebook quickly, and the physical copy at the library costs you nothing (up front; tax dollars etc etc).
Like I said, I was at the library three weeks ago. It was around 4 pm on a Tuesday. And you know what? It was CROWDED. There was a packed sign-up sheet for the computers. Kids and parents abounded in the children’s section. Older people and teenagers read at the tables in the main area. I had to wait in line to check out my book.
Before that, I had spent a lot of quality time on my library’s website. I like to read both physical books and ebooks. My library does Kindle loans. OK, their website is a crappy government website, and it can be a little difficult to navigate, but it’s doable. I read books I probably couldn’t or wouldn’t pay full price for, AKA a big part of the purpose of a library.
Libraries are not useless in the digital age, and even more importantly, they aren’t all empty. Just because YOU, PERSONALLY do not need or use something doesn’t make it a charming but impractical relic of a long-forgotten age.
I work in a library. Here are some of the reasons people come to the library:
They want directions.
They want to collect food/garden/dog waste bags, all handed out free at libraries.
They want to print/photocopy/scan.
They want to access the internet, either on our computers or on their own, via the free wi-fi.
Often this is because they have to apply for benefits, housing or jobs through the official system which is only available online. If they haven’t internet at home, the library offers free internet access. Where else does that? Sometimes they aren’t computer literate, so they appreciate an environment where they can ask for help.
Maybe they’ll attend one of our free IT classes, ranging from the absolute basics to subjects such as Facebook, Office software, job hunting and how to use the Council’s Homesearch website. If they want something specific, such as how to use their own laptop or how to shop online, we can set up a one-to-one appointment, also for free.
Our study spaces are very popular. Often they are all taken by ten past nine, after we open at nine. The number of people who have asked me how much it costs and looked surprised when I explained that using the library space is free and doesn’t require you to be a member surprises me.
They want to read the newspapers or magazines the library buys (recently expanded with the launch of an emagazine service—I get to read SFX for free now, which is cool).
They’re researching their family tree and want to take advantage of the library’s subscription to Ancestry.
They want to consult the planning documents for a local development or the register of local voters.
They want to participate in a council consultation.
They may have come to seek advice from an agency that operates a drop-in session at the library, such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau or the police.
They may be attending an event, either run by the library (an author talk, a book group, baby Rhymetime) or by an outside company who have rented the meeting rooms (theatre productions, ESOL classes, yoga). The library itself has regular events for babies, children, teenagers, adults, adults with mental health difficulties, adults learning English…
We have regular class visits from the local schools. We read them a story and they all choose a book. Sometimes we go to them. It was actually really lovely to see how many children came into the library, talking excitedly about the Summer Reading Challenge we came and told them in Assembly.
Children still look for books when they’re doing their homework, you know. Children who weren’t born at the time of the Millennium and have grown up with the internet.
People actually still read books. Over thirty thousand items were issued in my library last month, and while we certainly have DVDs, Blu-Rays, CDs, Talking Books, Language Courses, all those added together can’t be more than a couple of thousand.
Free books. I’m sorry, I am never over how wondrous that is. Thousands of books, free to borrow and read. (And for those incapable of making the journey to the library, we have a Housebound service.)
For all these reasons, we are really busy. Dozens of people join every day. Hundreds of people walk through the doors every day. Of course, there are people who don’t make use of libraries, who don’t need them. But really, someone who can’t remember the last time they went to the library can have no idea of the role they play.
Libraries are not irrelevant. Libraries are not cultural artifacts. Libraries are living and changing, a resource and a social space, free at the point of access, engaging the community, offering a wide range of services, accessible to all. And what other institution can you say that about? Libraries are important.
People go to the library for books. People go to the library for e-books. People go to the library for technology. People go to the library for human contact. People go to the library for educational and free programming for their children. People go to the library for fun. So learn your shit before opening your mouth. Maybe a librarian can point you in the way of the basics. (via inautumn-inkashmir)
Libraries for me mean a free climate controlled space, knitting patterns, and recipes. Also mine rents out DVDs and has a good sized selection of graphic novels, which really helps us keep our entertainment budget manageable. I only wish I lived within walking distance of mine, the library may be free but the bus sure isn’t.
Yeeeep. Libraries are still needed. I’m fortunate to live within walking distance of mine. I utilize it weekly. Last time I was there was Friday. I’d go there more often if the librarians weren’t horrible people. As it is, I do use the hold service on books I want and they travel from the one in Roseburg to my local one and I pick up the books and am gone. I think the library is the one place I go to the most out of everywhere.
And like, what about the fucking reference section? A library is basically the ONLY place you will find some of those books, unless you’re asble to afford to shell out 1000 dollars for a text. And a lot of information is ONLY in those books, or ONLY in books that exist only in physcal format, and are expensive/out of print. But there’s no way anybody could possibly want that information. RIght?
Like, the Dewey Decimal system books are still in copyright, so you only get the base information for it online, and thew books themselves are expensive as FUCK. The library was the only place I could ever find them.
giddygirlgumption and I took our kids to the library literally 3 hours ago. And it was the second time we’d been in three days. My daughters have been going to this library since they were 9 months old and newborn respectively. They attended storytime, they’ve poured through the children’s section. In fact, there’s a little teddy bear that stands about 2 1/2 feet tall that is post upright with welcoming arms when you get to the children’s floor (the entire basement). My daughters have been attending this library since they were shorter than this bear and they now tower over it. In fact, the older girl volunteered there this summer.
We’ve checked out music, dvds, books galore, done research and they’ve both learned the Scratch programming language in classes there. The library is part of our life, part of our normal. And we’re not alone when we go there.
Even if you think you can replace every single function of a library with something else, you shouldn’t. Why? Because a library is a place you can go, as an individual human being, and interact with other individual human beings, without feeling pressured to buy one single thing or spend one single cent (unless you have an overdue fine. Then you should really pay your fine). We have a rapidly dwindling number of those around.
55 Reading Questions
Gleefully taken from fargreencountryswiftsunrise
55 Reading Questions – December of 2013
1. Favorite childhood book? “Matilda” was my first real chapter book - my mother read many of Dahl’s books to us and I remember my father bringing back new ones from business trips. I loved the “Little House” books. When I was a bit older, I loved a weird little title called “Stonewords” and “Lucy Babbidge’s House”.
2. What are you reading right now? “Pigeon English” for book club (and I am totally not feeling it). “Her Fearful Symmetry”, which I inexplicably avoided for a while but which is fairly engrossing. I also need to finish the new Simon Armitage, but it’s not grabbing me the same as his Gawain. I’ve also been nominally working through a collection of Cordwainer Smith for a couple of months now.
3. What books do you have on request at the library? I’m actually all caught up with my holds for the moment.
4. Bad book habit? Ordering/purchasing/borrowing more books than I can possibly read at once. Suddenly becoming interested in a subject/title/author and then throwing over what I’m reading for the new topic.
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library? Three need to be returned to the public library. Currently have the aforementioned “Her Fearful Symmetry” and “Pigeon English” and “The Happiness Advantage”.
6. Do you have an e-reader? No. I’ve borrowed a Kindle from work and used a Kindle app on my iPad.
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once? Several at once. My mood and taste can change over a day.
8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog? No. Though two graduate degrees and the start of a career has. I find it harder and harder to just drop into a book. I did a ton of short story collections during my MLIS - easy to read for half an hour before passing out.
9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far)? “The Sixth Wife” by Suzannah Dunn, but I honestly do not know what I was expecting.
10. Favorite book you’ve read this year? Non-fiction: “The Other Dickens : a life of Catherine Hogarth”. Fiction: “The Daylight Gate” by Jeanette Winterson.
11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? Not as much as I should. I’ve been better about it lately. Having friends whose tastes are so different than mine is really helpful.
12. What is your reading comfort zone? Victorian fiction, British fiction, historical fiction, biographies.
13. Can you read on the bus? Yes. I trained myself to read in the car when I was about seven or so. It takes a lot to prevent me from reading.
14. Favorite place to read? In bed. On my red loveseat. At this time of year, a bright light and a warm blanket is required.
15. What is your policy on book lending? You have a year. No dogearing pages or folding the cover over when you read. Otherwise, enjoy.
16. Do you ever dog-ear books? I only did on novels I read for college. I would bend down a corner and then scribble something significant on it.
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books? Only during undergrad and only in pencil.
18. Not even with text books? Most of my textbooks were novels or paperback non-fiction texts. Ditto my MA. My MLIS was primarily PDFs.
19. What is your favorite language to read in? English is, sadly, the only language I have.
20. What makes you love a book? Characters I believe in. A world I can fall into and that I do not want to leave. Language that is beautiful - not necessarily complex or fancy, but pure and true.
21. What will inspire you to recommend a book? I tore through it or re-read it. The characters/world/phrases are still with me.
22. Favorite genre? Historical fiction or biography.
23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)? History that isn’t necessarily grounded in the biography of a person or persons. If it has a more political bent, I tend to zone out. Popular science - the husband really enjoys it and the subjects seem interesting, but I gravitate back towards novels.
24. Favorite biography? Super difficult to decide. The two I’ve recommended the most to others are Claire Tomalin’s “Invisible Woman: the story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens” and “James Tiptree Jr. : the double life of Alice B. Sheldon”.
25. Have you ever read a self-help book? Yes.
26. Favorite cookbook? To use: How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. To read while in the bathtub and stressed out: How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. To read while stressed out and feeling nostalgic: The Little House Cookbook.
27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)? “Lulu in Hollywood” or “O, Pioneers!”
28. Favorite reading snack? Tea and toast.
29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience. 90% of the YA I’ve tried to read.
30. How often do you agree with critics about a book? I don’t really follow critics. I will seriously consider the opinion of the Guardian when it comes to contemporary fiction.
31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews? Sometimes it’s necessary. I try to express my opinion clearly and will be honest if I can see value in the work, even if it didn’t resonate with me.
32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose? French or Latin.
33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read? Thomas Hardy novels because ugggggggghhhhhh. Just. His poetry is breathtaking but Jude… I just can’t with this guy any more.
34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin? “18Q4”, Game of Thrones (everyone loves them but it’s fantasy and there’s the show and uggggh, pressure). I’ve still only gotten like a fifth of the way through “Middlemarch”.
35. Favorite Poet? Edna St. Vincent Millay, Wislawa Szymborska, Simon Armitage.
36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time? Public library - usually 3 or so. Work: far too many, but that’s what happens when you get 6 months checkouts and can override overdues.
37. How often have you returned books to the library unread? Not that often, though it happens. I tend to be pretty picky to start.
38. Favorite fictional character? Francie Nolan and Jane Eyre will stay with me for always.
39. Favorite fictional villain? Quilp.
40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation? Lighter fiction. Short story collections I can dip in and out of. Or, if nothing I have is working, go to the nearest bookstore in the terminal/station and then text my friend Matt and get a title rec from him. He’s been fairly spot on the last half dozen times.
41. The longest I’ve gone without reading. Each of my 9 10 week quarters in grad school. The only reading I did was for class or maybe scraps of short stories. .
42. Name a book that you could/would not finish. “The Lovely Bones” (cried too hard like three chapters in and gave up).
43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading? TV/movies. Loud bus conversations.
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel? “The Age of Innocence” (until “The Departed”, this was the only Scorsese film I really liked). “Clueless” (favorite version of “Emma” ever).
45. Most disappointing film adaptation? “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”. They didn’t even try.
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time? I’m sure the husband and I together dropped over a hundred at Powell’s more than once.
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it? Rarely. I’m more likely to read the first couple of pages (fiction) or skip to the photos in the middle (biography) than skim.
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through? If I feel I’m just going through the motions. If it’s too violent or dark - I believe in going outside your comfort zones, but there is a limit. If I’ve put it down and then completely forgotten about it for a week.
49. Do you like to keep your books organized? Genre. Alphabetical by author. Chronological by pub date. This works because I have my Victorian books separated from the non-Victorian, so it vaguely flows like LC. I do enough classification at work that I try to keep it simple at home.
50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them? I tend to try new authors/topics/subjects via library books. If I’m buying a book, odds are it’s because I know I’ll want to keep it.
51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding? “Martin Chuzzlewit” - next on the great Dickens read. It sits on my nightstand, staring at me.
52. Name a book that made you angry. “Jude the Obscure”. “The Other Dickens” (so upset at Chaz, but a good read).
53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did? “Room” - it seemed very outside my usual thing, but I adored it. Ditto “A Clockwork Orange”.
54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t? “Are You My Mother?”. Claire Tomalin’s latest on Dickens.
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading? Cadfael novels or similar British murder mysteries.