While on the bus yesterday, I happened to overhear a terrible conversation. A man and a woman sat next to each other, and as we drove past the public library the woman turned and asked “What is that building?” the man then replied “That’s the library.” he continued on, saying, “They should just tear it down to save tax dollars. No one uses libraries, everyone uses the internet.”
Because we then got off the bus, and I had no chance to refute his ridiculous statement, I am writing him this letter in hopes that someday he (or other people equally idiotic) will see it:
Dear Mr. Foolish Bus Man,
The idiocy of your statement that the library should be torn down to save tax dollars is so ludicrous that I almost don’t know where to start. So I shall start with the second half of your statement, which implies that the internet can take the place of a library.
First of all, I would like to mention that internet use costs money. To use the internet, first of all you need a computer. Even the cheapest of these will cost you around 500$. Then you need to have internet access, which let’s say is an extra 20$ a month. I don’t know how you can think every American can afford this. Did you know that 73% of public libraries offer the only free public internet access in their community? Even if the internet could replace libraries, where would people go to use the internet if their library had been torn down?
Now on to whether or not the internet can replace libraries. Let’s look at it first from the information access aspect of it. The internet is mainly used for entertainment. If you’re trying to find real information however, it’s kind of like walking into the Library of Congress if there were no call numbers or any organization of any sort, and randomly pulling books off the shelves. The only parts of the internet that have been organized for ease of access to information are the databases put together by librarians who are doing it for their library.
Now I could get into the importance of libraries in literacy, but I won’t. I’ll just say: would you rather your child was playing games on the internet, or reading a book they got at the library? Even with the advent of E-books, you still can’t get the majority of Children’s books. For older children, many libraries now offer homework help centers where they can actually learn how to find information the right way. Do you want your children to grow up to be the kind of student who thinks copying a Wikipedia article counts as doing research? Oh way, I forgot, you’re the foolish man who thinks that libraries should be torn down. You probably were one of those students.
As for saving tax dollars by closing down the library, did you know that during a recession libraries are actually used more? During the Great Depression when libraries were faced with budget cuts, library patrons who could afford it would purposefully let their books become overdue so that they could pay the fine to help keep the library open. It’s sad to see that there are people like you, Mr. Foolish Bus Man, who think that library budgets should be the first to go (as they so often are).
I’m going to end my rant and I won’t bother getting into all the other important things libraries provide for the community (but I assure you, there are many more). Let me just leave you with this: I feel sorry for you, Mr. Foolish Bus Man. You’re obviously an uneducated, ignorant man, and I hope you never reproduce.