By Terry Rodino, Chair of the Library Board of Trustees
Recently, a jerk-face economics professor from New York wrote an opinion piece for Forbes saying that public libraries are no longer useful and should be replaced by Amazon services. His “argument” is that the same services can be provided by businesses that charge for their services. Instead of going to the library, you can go to the local Starbucks. Instead of checking out a book, you can simply buy the digital version. (Although the original article has been removed, the folks at the American Library Association’s Young Adult Library Services Association made a PDF copy. Don’t mess with librarians.)
I get it, everyone can sit back at the local coffee shop, reading their favorite book on their tablet/phone/whatever-fancy-device-they-have. They can take their kids with them. The kids can have their favorite spiced mocha lattes while watching videos on their watches. Okay, yes, I am exaggerating. You can’t watch Netflix or Amazon Prime on your watch, can you?
Libraries are they greatest place on earth! Anyone who disagrees with me can eat garbage! Nasty mysterious garbage in a black bag that has been sitting on the curb in the late-July sun for a week. And then the garbage men didn’t show up, and it sat out there for another week in early August. Blah.
Okay, whew. I got that out of my system. There might have been some hyperbole. Sorry, Jerk-face professor. I mean, professor.
Let me explain some of the benefits of our library that you can’t buy from Amazon or Starbucks.
- A yearly summer reading program. Every year, our library tries to reinforce people’s love of reading by rewarding them for reading! So, instead of you paying to read the book of your preference, the librarians have reached out to local businesses, who have in turn donated from their businesses, to reward you for reading. So, you are getting gifts to read! That’s it! Are you kidding me? That’s absolutely nuts! (Apologies to anyone who thinks I am being inappropriate for referring to people as “nuts” or people who have nut allergies and think I am being unfair because of my privilege of not being allergic to nuts).
- Our library has really awesome, but awkwardly named, Adult Exploration Kits. These are duffle bags that include numerous items on various subjects. Personally, I’ve checked out the ones on Espionage, Wood Working and Lawn Games! These kits contain books, movies, games and other pertinent items for whatever Adult Exploration Kit you checkout (see, it just sounds…). Anyway, these are my favorite things about the library!
- They have kits for Book Clubs! So, if you belong to one of those groups who meet in people’s living rooms and want to talk about who is more dreamy, Mr. Darcy or Mr. Rochester, well – I honestly don’t know where to go with this one.
- The library provides free access to online databases so that you can download ebooks and audiobooks! You don’t even have to go to the library to do it! You can sit at home in your pajamas, or on the potty, and check out your favorite Stephenie Meyers ebook! It can be at 2 o’clock in the morning! Also, you don’t have to drag all the children to the library, unless you want to! But, really, who wants to? I have three kids and I take them, but is it really by choice? But, if you do like taking your kids, then –
- Activities for kids! A birthday party for Harry Potter? Sing Along Musicals? Story Time? Baby Time? Toddler Time? Um, yes. The library holds these programs! Checkout the Main Calendar page to see what’s going on! If your too lazy to read (like you’d be reading this – lol), call the library and ask what’s going on. Oh, personal note, don’t just drop off your kids. That’s called abandonment and it’s against the law. Seriously, you have to stay with your kids. If you’re trying to argue that, what kind of parent are you?
These are on top of getting to checkout books, CDs, DVDs, Audiobooks for free! (As long as you return them on time. Seriously, why do people get mad when there is a late fee? You know you have to return them. Don’t get angry with the librarians because you forgot to keep track of stuff).
I was going to write a patriotic post about how Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were avid supporters of the library and how Abraham Lincoln credited his learning to his local library. You can look that stuff up, if you want.
So, finally, you belong to a community that has an awesome library! Have I said that enough? Don’t be a jerk-face and support your local library!
(jerk-face) Terry Rodino
Chair, Board of Trustees, Madison Library District
Ps. I completely support Amazon and the billionaire Jeff Bezos in everything he does. Jeff, you can contact me anytime brah!