It was only a week or so ago that I was reading Carolines article about 20 free summer activities for kids, and thinking how wonderful that there were so many mentions of various events at local libraries. And then this morning, I laughed as I stumbled upon a a poorly conceived, poorly reasoned, entirely unsourced op-ed in Forbes’ blog from economist and (whoa) economics professor at LIU Post, Panos Mourdoukoutas, proposing that we close all libraries and replace them with Amazon bookstores to “save taxpayers lots of money, while enhancing the value of [Amazon’s] stock.” [Note: Forbes has pulled the article, but you can read the original “Amazon Should Replace Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money” that Parker Molloy saved.]
If Jonathan Swift springs instantly to mind then, phew, I’m not the only one.
via @lyndztanica: read the entire thread
I mean, (paraphrasing here but not inaccurately) “we should only give taxpayer dollars to corporations and not to actual public spaces that benefits all taxpayers because you can just hang out in Starbucks if you want to read and who goes to libraries anyway?” is a modest proposal indeed.
There is such inanity (and classism) of suggesting we take public money away from public spaces to instead help “the stock price” of an already massive corporation, I’m not surprised the original Forbes blog went viral with hate-readers.
The clapback to the initial tweet on Twitter has been swift and biting. Leave it librarians and readers to have the best comebacks.
I’d say @gwenckatz:1, Panos Mourdoukoutas:0
Every time we recommend a book here, we include an online link for purchase as well as a suggestion to support your local indie bookseller or check your local library. I mean, I’m definitely an Amazon shopper, but I also recognize the incredible value libraries hold.
Of course, libraries lend free books to anyone in the community at all, particularly to readers for whom buying books just isn’t a viable option. This alone provides an invaluable service to the entire country, by helping to close the education and knowledge gap, creating more opportunity for all — with absolutely no profit motive attached.
But there’s so much more than books! My own daughter’s public Brooklyn Middle School, which does not have printer access for students, directs students without printers at home to take advantage of our nearby library’s printer for homework assignments.
And we know so many of our readers would count themselves among these groups.
Which is why my favorite takeaway from social media backlash might be the same as yours: a growing list of library offerings that various Twitter users offered up.
Take a look at these amazing offerings, in addition to so many I’ve known about or discovered on my own with a quick web search — something you could totally do for free in a library, by the way.
Insert shrugging emoticon here.
A wildly abbreviated list of programs, services, and benefits offered by local libraries
-Run code clubs
-Offer free Internet and computer access
-Lend free digital books for your mobile device
–Serve free lunch to kids and teens when school is out of session
-Host cooking classes
-Offer 3D printing maker labs
-Host story time for kids in local parks and community spaces
–Offer free music and dance series
-Create a safe space for students after school when parents are still at work
-Provide free access to expensive out-of-print books or those in limited production
-Offer free meeting spaces, often the only location in a community
–Provider free live and online academic and job assistance to recent veterans
-Offer access to streaming video services, free
-Provide in-person support, study materials and resources for new immigrants, including free on-site immigration and naturalization services.
-Feature the work of local artists to provide more exposure
-Provide free resume writing and interview prep clinics for employment seekers
-Recommend books with no economic incentive whatsoever
-Teach computer literacy
-Provide health workshops on issues from fitness and weight loss to Alzheimers, Cancer and AIDS
-Offer writing and poetry workshops
-Loan computers and laptops
-Teach gaming workshops to kids
-Teach ESL through classes and conversation groups
-Offer small business workshops
-Teach investing and money management
–Provide housing help for those experiencing a housing crisis
-Offer free SAT prep and other test prep to students
-Provide a space space in times of protest and even a school alternative for children (Ferguson’s Municipal Library helped teachers open an ad-hoc school on library grounds in August and November of 2014 when schools closed due to safety concern)
-Host screenings of audio-described films for the blind
-Provide a safe place for homeless families to spend time and learn
-Offer tax form assistance and access to financial coaches
-Offer volunteer opportunities, particularly for teens and seniors
-Host free movie screenings and after-film discussions and writing workshops
-Host yoga classes
-Host Zumba classes
-Host craft classes for adults and children
-Host baby-and-me classes including singalongs and readings
-Provide free after school care programs
-Offer book plate memorial tributes
-Offer affordable used book sales
-Support the visually impaired with magnifiers that enlarge print materials up to 60 times actual size.
-Offer free public architectural tours of public library buildings of note
-Promote and host local blood drives
-Support literary festivals like Toronto’s TCAF
-Guide young readers through comics and graphic novels to spark more reading interest
American Library Association’s 2017 Caldecott Medal Winner Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe
-Recommend the very best children’s books each year
-Provide book lending and other services to homebound and elderly neighbors
-Offer free tutoring on all kinds of subjects
-Help authors and journalists with sourcing
-Create summer reading challenges to keep students’ minds sharp over vacation
-Offer free teen-only clubs around topics like robotics, manga and anime, crafting, gaming, and of course, books
-Hold genealogy workshops
-Host an indigenous writers conference
-Perform puppet shows for children
-Offer tai chi classes
–Loaning out American Girl dolls. Sniff.
With gratitude to this thread from reference librarian Lindsey R, at @lyndztanica, as well as so many librarians and library fans on Twitter, including:
Do you have a favorite service, course, or activity your own library offers? We’d love to hear it in the comments!