Can you believe an economist penned an opinion piece on the website of business magazine Forbes entitled Amazon should replace local libraries to save taxpayers money? The writer put forward his idea that libraries “don’t have the same value they used to”. It caused a public outcry around the world and the post has now been deleted.
It’s hard to know where to start with what is wrong with this idea. One of my favourite memories as a child is of going to the library on Saturday mornings, checking out a huge stack of books, coming home and spreading them across the floor, deciding which one to read first and then digging in to those pages that would take me to another world to meet amazing characters.
I love visiting my library now to see pre-schoolers with mum or dad at rhyme time, school children doing research at the desks or older members of the community browsing the shelves or the newspaper stacks.
I often pop in and sit in a comfy chair to read for a little while. Now of course there are e-books and audio books to download for my phone so I can take my favourite author walking with me each day.
There are so many activities on offer that my head spins: book clubs, historical society meetings, computer classes, community legal services, language classes, printing services and a wide variety of talks and presentations.
When my mum was battling cancer, the wonderful librarians at her suburban library chose a selection of books for her each week. The driver of the bus that drove around to pick up and drop off seniors called in with her books, enabling mum to keep in touch with her reading community.
I have come to understand that a library is not just a place of books; it is a place of people and community. Thankfully there are enough of us like-minded people to remind economists and others who would wish to close our libraries.