There was a controversial debate a couple of weeks ago and I missed it. I found out this debate from an article which I postponed to read.
Here’s the discussion: The one and only Forbes published an article and then they took it down. The article was arguing that libraries are a waste of taxpayer money and should be replaced by Amazon stores. Panos Mourdoukoutas, the author of this article, is also a professor who specializes in world economy.
Forbes took down the article by saying that it was outside of author’s areas of expertise. As you can imagine this article got so many reactions.
The arguments in the article are as follows; the roles traditionally performed by libraries — lending books, of course, but also serving as community gathering places — are now performed better by “third places” like Starbucks and bookstore-cafes. And since Amazon’s brick-and-mortar bookstores are equipped with easy access to the comprehensive Amazon database of books around the world, the article concluded, Amazon bookstore-cafes are superior to libraries.
When people opposed this idea by saying that local libraries are free, he replied :
It is true that libraries are partially funded by property tax dollars, in much the same way that taxpayers fund the other public services that we as a society have decided are vital to the public good, like schools and fire departments and parks and roadworks. But the libraries are designed to serve the public. Amazon is designed to maximize its profits. Therefore, these two should never be evaluated in the same room. While Amazon bookstore- cafe is funded by an enormous corporation for the purpose of maximizing its profits libraries are funded by the public in order to serve the public.
It’s true that libraries are underfunded so they are not perfect. That doesn’t mean they’re a waste of money. And if you ask me, I would say that libraries also represent equality which we cannot see around often.
Homeless, immigrants or students… They all have the same access to the same information. I think libraries are one of the most democratic places on earth. Why would anyone want to turn this into a profit mechanism?