Monday, August 25, 2014

Close The Libraries And Buy Everyone An Amazon Kindle Unlimited Subscription

A terrible, short-sighted (tongue-in-check, I hope) suggestion from Forbes.

Herein some of the responses:

Do you not understand the plethora of other resources available to library patrons outside of books? How would a subscription to this service replace those services? Libraries offer such free services as: counseling with a lawyer or social worker, internet access, access to printers and copiers (sometimes for a fee), ESL classes, multitudes of programming for children and teens, a community hub for learning and socialization, among many other resources. Libraries/librarians are often on the forefront of activism for privacy rights, particularly in the United States. How does a service such as Amazon’s lending program advocate for its community?

In regards to book lending itself, the Amazon service is severely limited [and] does not include a wealth of titles available through other services, including libraries.
If you added up the real costs (labor, planning, staff knowledge, etc.) involved in the work libraries do, it would be far more than is ever received in financial support from their communities. Libraries are one of the few truly public services where you can say, you get MORE than you pay for.

Libraries are a hub for programs and culture. Most importantly, the library holds librarians. Librarians are some of the leaders of research. Librarians help people research and to find information. By removing a library, you’re removing the librarian, one of the most adaptive professions on the face of this planet. Do you think librarians would have predicted computers and ereaders years ago? Heck no. However, go into your local library today and they have those exact technologies. Librarians adapt and embrace change, because they are here to serve its users. Whatever a user needs, a librarian works to meet the needs of the user.

In addition, do you think your ebook you’re reading has all the facts? Do you think it’s telling you everything? Technology can only take you so far. How do I know this article is scholarly and credible? Librarians can help with that. A librarian can tell you where to look for information and help you distinguish fact from fiction.
Libraries are the public square where conversation at all levels takes place. Libraries are about more than books. Remember the homeless folks in Seattle who taught themselves coding on public library computers and got jobs? How about those public read-alouds where children who might not get books read to them get to participate.

I know some politicians are afraid of libraries. Clearly, corporations would want to dictate our collections. Disclosure: I’m a librarian, and I am appalled.
Libraries are not simply repositories for material that can be acquired elsewhere. They are organic systems which evolve and change over time as the needs of the public change.

The patron base for my library includes many low-income families... and they literally have nowhere else to go. If I were to hand any of these people a Kindle, half of them would not be able to operate it, and about a quarter of those would be unable to access Amazon because they do not have an internet connection.

I’ve seen misguided stories like this for decades. The basic theme is that some electronic service based on the internet is going to make or has made libraries obsolete. In fact the exact opposite has happened. Library use has exploded over the past 20 years because libraries leverage the internet to provide far more services than they had prior to the internet. The last time such a revolution occurred was when the Linotype machine drove down the price of printing, making it possible for a library to offer much more than a few dozen books.
My local library offers far more than 600,000 volumes through it’s inter-library loan service. It also offers and participates in many other public services.

1. Access point for people who do not have their own internet service.
2. Help with locating information sources.
3. Online databases such as JSTOR, Legal Reference, Mergant, Newspaper Archives
4. Job hunting resources
5. Lending media including music, movies, etc.
6. Current Periodicals and newspapers
7. Various children’s programs aimed at improving literacy
8. Computer literacy courses
9. Programs tied in with local schools such as summer reading lists
10. Collection management – books available are driven by community needs rather than Amazon or publisher commercial motivations.
11. Small Business Counseling

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