In Defense Of Libraries

Maybe it’s because I’m the granddaughter of a librarian, but when these occasional pieces about how we should get rid of libraries in favor of Amazon and claiming they are no longer relevant are published, I’m mostly confused.

Libraries do a lot more than lend books. A lot. And much of what they do serves poor and otherwise marginalized communities. But even if we choose to ignore the general community service that libraries do (INCLUDING TREATING OVERDOSES), libraries are a great bargain.

(Setting aside the claim that you shouldn’t get a book from the library if you want to support an author, which is pretty widely considered to be untrue. Authors make money from libraries.)

Most libraries cost less than 150 USD a year to join. (My membership at the Baltimore Country Public Library is 100 USD a year. The one in Delft is less than 60 euros per year.) Many are completely free for residents. Some amount of your tax dollars goes to support the library. (In the US, it varies by state. In Ohio, for example, it’s 1.67% of the state’s total tax revenue.)

Those are tiny amounts of money compared to how much books cost. If you read more than a couple of books in a year, the library is the best financial investments you will make. I am an avid reader and I’ve checked out around 50 books from the library this year (I only do ebook lending, for obvious reasons.) Which, considering I paid 100 bucks, is utter madness. At 100 bucks a year though, I’d only need to read a book a month to make it worthwhile.

(I’m not the only one who argues this.)

And that’s just for the ebook lending alone. If I lived closer to the library, you could use to browse for new ideas, go to events, pretentiously write your novel there, get book advice and about a million other things.

Anyway, support your public library.