Yesterday, I got into a bit of a flame war with someone on the internet. Shocking, I know. I am, after all, so shy and retiring.
But this jerk, who was all for getting rid of PBS, by the way, had the nerve to tell me that I, as a librarian, and the library, were obsolete. Why? Because he could "download every book ever written." And so he no longer needed the library.
Huh. Could've fooled me.
First of all, while I work in a library, I am not only a librarian. I am a Media Specialist. Why that name? Because books are only part of my job. I create websites, work with databases, and audio books, and audiovisual material, and a host of other things. I do NOT sit behind a desk and read all day. If you could see the things I've had to do for Graduate School, you would never look at a "Librarian" the same way again. I've made podcasts, and videos, and any number of other things completely unrelated to books.
Yes, I do buy books. And catalog them, and put them into the library. But I take a great deal of care to select books my library needs, and that are beneficial to students and staff. It's called collection development. And it can't be done by any old bozo. But let's leave all that alone and focus on this bonehead's statement. While downloading books is great (I do it myself), his statement assumes that a) he has a device on which to download and read the books and b) he is either paying for the books, getting them from a pirate site, OR downloading them from...THE LIBRARY. So if he's paying, and he has a device, he is then speaking from a place of privilege. And, as we all know, not everyone can afford either a device OR to pay for books.
Hence, the need for the library. But beyond books, whether you get them in dead-tree or eformat from the library, it is a place where INFORMATION can be had FOR ALL, FOR FREE. And since we now live in the INFORMATION age, that's pretty darn cool, huh. If you think Google will find you everything you want to know, well, maybe. But only if you know how to use it properly. I've done comparisons on search engines as part of my coursework. Not to mention that in times of economic downturn, the library is now MORE frequently used.
Because you can take courses, FOR FREE. On how to write a resume, conduct a job search, take an interview.
You can use computers, FOR FREE. To write and check email, to write and print that resume, to search for a job when you can't afford a computer. Or, if you have one but can't afford internet service... guess what? Most libraries are also a FREE wireless hotspot.
I am not just a librarian, and libraries aren't just for books. They are for children's story hour, and teen book discussion groups and Pokemon clubs and Movie Nights. They are for MEDIA of all forms, and the place where everyone is equally entitled to find information.
So many people of a certain political persuasion are all about what they think the Founding Fathers wanted for our country.
Ben Franklin founded the first public library. Because he believed in access to information for EVERYONE, not just those of privilege.