Why writers should stand up for libraries


Though Cory’s plea in support of e-books is admirable, at this point I think all support should be leveled at simply keeping our nation’s libraries open. Library hours and days have been severely cut in my home town - with real threats of closing several or all branches. In a way, the thrust of this video (by Cory) is similar to someone trying to save and reupholster the interior of a car, when the car’s tires are flat and the transmission is blown. Also, Cory’s convoluted break down of the machinations of Amazon and other book sellers confuses me, so I wonder how confusing Cory’s line of thought would be to small rural principalities who simply need to cut back library funding immediately, so they can keep a few cops gainfully employed

I returned some books to a local library the other day and this particular branch seems to be primarily used as a wireless hub. People are using libraries as home office extensions (nothing wrong with that) and as places to kick back and rest (nothing wrong with that) - actual books on shelves have dwindled, while DVDs and popular audio books have increased. The glorious days of libraries being used as a primary means of doing grand research are over - unless you’re using the Harvard Law Library or the British Library.


Inasmuch as I consider writing to be an art form, I support public support (tax-based) of authors. That said, I’m afraid I don’t understand the purpose of libraries anymore. They seem to simply be community centers nowadays with only a few Luddites still actually browsing the shelves. I’m all for community centers as well, but our town doesn’t need two.

Maintaining an expensive facility and staff so that a young book lover might get the occasional recommendation doesn’t seem like a good use of resources.

What does it even mean for a library to offer e-books? Why do we need a staffed facility for that?

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i suspect a good number of publishers(not authors) don’t really CARE if people READ the books, only if they BUY them. if they buy them for wallpaper, or to make a dress, or to burn for heat or a political message they don’t care, they get payed. to such a person a library is pointless at best, dangerous at worst (after all anyone reading a book in a library isn’t PAYING for it, it may as well be theft…if libraries were new tell me you couldn’t see that claim levied.)
as for ebooks in a library…it’s tricky. yes, it would be rather useless, a digital file in a brick and mortar building and why? to be in some way compatible with the existing infrastructure mostly.

i’d like to see the internet ITSELF deemed a library, though even that is not quite accurate. the internet is something unique altogether. a store, a library, a bank, a phone, the list goes on. and there is no nice distinctions between them, they all blend together. you can’t, for instance, say you can only read this on this site. attempts to shove these shades of grey into black and white boxes just causes problems for everyone.

“Community centers” is a harsh description, but appropriate. At this point in time, libraries are similar to post offices, in that their function(s) can be accomplished through other means

Plus, there are plenty of other sources (besides esteemed librarians) where a young person can get book recommendations…parents and siblings should be doing this - the librarians in our town have become glorified check out clerks, not dis-similar to someone you’'d see scanning groceries at a store. I think the days of “Miss Johnson the Helpful and Dedicated Librarian” giddily introducing Oscar Wilde to an eager young adult are over.

So what other means do people without the resources to pay for Internet access, ebooks or education have?

What about the laid off factory worker without computer skills or Internet access who has to file for unemployment and start a new job search? Where does he go?

Look up some research on the digital divide before you start talking from your privileged position about things you know little about.


I didn’t mean it as an insult. Community centers are valuable assets and libraries are still a sort of learning-focused version but a version nonetheless. I firmly believe that storing and preserving paper books is no longer a useful endeavor.

All great purposes for a community center.

Really? Have you been to a library recently? Or spoken with a librarian about what their job is?

You might want to do that.


Yours is an extreme (though not uncommon) example - however, should American libraries be kept afloat by tax dollars so that people can file for unemployment? I guess maybe we need some actual librarians to chime in on this topic!

I’ve tried talking to my local librarian, but she keeps telling me to “shushhhhh…”

But Cory’s video was not about paper books, it was about libraries not having access to ebooks. If paper books die and libraries cannot find a way to loan them ebooks for free to those who cannot afford them do we just say, as a country or culture/world that literacy and even recreational reading is only for those who have the means to afford it?

For at least 100 years libraries have been able to freely share print books and very few if any writers or publishers worried about lost sales because they knew that is how they created fans and new readers who may buy their books in the future. Why should that paradigm be any different just because a book is electronic?


Yeah, actual librarian here. There are a number of us on Boing Boing, we have even had happy mutant gatherings at the ALA conference.


Wow is that ever an out-dated and over-used stereotype… #popcultureFAIL

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Just FYI, those people checking out your books are probably not librarians any more than the person answering the phone at the dentist office is a dentist.

I will say that yes, of course the web has had a huge impact on libraries. We are no longer gatekeepers for information, we are more like guides helping people to sift through the mounds.

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No, not out-dated or a stereotype…just a corny joke

Library paraprofessional here, not an actual librarian, and I’d just like to thank you for giving me another reason to want to attend ALA.

I’m sorry to get off-topic, but, while my experience working in libraries does give me some insight, I can’t really speak up as a bona fide librarian. But I remain extremely grateful to those who do, and I hope I’d be welcome at one of those happy mutant gatherings.

Of course, and I was not intending any slight to the myriad of amazing paraprofessionals that are asked to do more and more in today’s libraries with my earlier comments. I was just responding to the comment about librarian check-out clerks.

Most librarians, including me, were paraprofessionals for many years.

Yes - you used an outdated and over-used stereotype as a joke.

Did my corny, outdated and stereotypical joke offend you on some level?

I’d be a little surprised if it did.
I mean, most jokes operate purely on the basis
of making fun of out-dated stereotypes

Oh well, can’t win 'em all…

Here’s a (possibly) less offensive librarian joke:

Why did the librarian slip and fall on the library floor?
Because she was in the non-friction section.

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