Why Libraries Still Exist

Over the weekend, I was on my phone, and in my news feed an article popped up because it was about libraries. It was this Forbes piece (links to the article through the WayBack Machine) by Panos Mourdoukoutas, who is a professor and chair of the Economics department at Long Island University, who also lectures at Columbia University occasionally (at least according to his bio on Forbes).

The piece is entitled “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money.” After I started writing this post, the piece was pulled from Forbes, but these ideas still exist out there, so I’m going to continue with this post.

The article argued that “Amazon should open their own bookstores in all local communities. They can replace local libraries and save taxpayers lots of money, while enhancing the value of their stock.”

Mourdoukoutas said that libraries aren’t free, because we pay taxes for them, and that their value as a place to host community events no longer exists. He believes Netflix and other streaming services have replaced the need for video rental services, like borrowing DVDs from the library. He also argued that Starbucks and other “third places” take over the role libraries have as a community space, where people can go online, meet up with friends, and enjoy a drink.

This isn’t everything he said, but I want to provide a counterpoint to a lot of what he wrote above, as many of these ideas have been floating around for a while.

Continue reading Why Libraries Still Exist

What Not to Do on Your Library Website, or the Library Websites’ Hall of Shame: Not Having Your Own Website

This is a continuation of my Hall of Shame series. One of the many things I work on as a librarian is websites, more specifically, the usability, accessibility, and navigation of a website. In this series I will show examples of website sins libraries commit, and explain why they’re not good ideas. In all of my examples, the names of the libraries, and any other identifying information, will be blacked out to protect those guilty of these sins.

Before I go into this month’s post, I want to say this disclaimer: The issues I’m pointing out are very relevant, and should be rectified if there is a chance to do so. I don’t claim to know the budgets of these libraries or the reasoning behind their decisions, so I can only go off what I see on their websites.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s begin. This post is about libraries that don’t have their own website. Their website is folded into the university or city’s own websites. Below, are three big reasons why that is problematic, with screenshots of library websites to back up the evidence.

Continue reading What Not to Do on Your Library Website, or the Library Websites’ Hall of Shame: Not Having Your Own Website