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Should We Replace Libraries with Amazon

“Should We Replace Libraries with Amazon

Jeff Bezos and Amazon in 1999

Of course not. It’s a terrible idea.

So why did Forbes publish this article [since removed due to embarrassment?] that made that horrendous suggestion?

We have no idea, but that’s just the kind of sentiment that we’re fighting against in the United States with your donations.

There are, of course, many problems with this idea. First of all, libraries cost the average American taxpayer over 18 years old just $4.50 per month. An Amazon Prime subscription alone is nearly double that price and you get very little for free with that subscription because you still have to buy books or pay more to gain access to premium goods or services. If you want audio books or eBooks on Amazon, you need to pay for an Audible subscription or Kindle unlimited ($10 a month or twice the cost of a library) but you can get that for free through Overdrive (Libby) at your local library. If you want newly released movies, you have to buy the premium Amazon channels or you can get those for free at your library. If you want access to premium music you have to pay another $7.99 a month on Amazon or you can use Freegal or Hoopla at your library for free. And, if you want magazines, you can just get those for free from your library with Zinio or PressReader.

But those are just some examples of the physical things available at your library. The truth is that libraries have been a whole lot more for a long time. Libraries are community spaces where children come in order to learn to read and get a head start on learning. They are places where adults can get the help they need to explore an increasingly complex digital and information driven work environment. Veterans returning from overseas can attend programs to help them gain access to critical services. Small business owners and entrepreneurs can access global market databases like Gale Business Insights and use ReferenceUSA and AtoZ Databases to find new leads. Children can play with stem toys to learn how to engage with the latest technologies and gain the skills they’ll need in the workforce. They do all of this and whole lot more, for a lot less than Amazon or any other organization in the country. Just a take a look at these examples;

Comparison of the cost and services of Amazon and Libraries.

This isn’t the first or the last time that we’re going to see these articles get published. In fact, not long ago Forbes also published an article that claimed that we could save money by purchasing everyone a Kindle. We’ve also seen numerous tweets about replacing libraries with other high cost solutions that just don’t offer the same level of service for the same low price.

The only way to fight against these sentiments is to educate Americans about how valuable and efficient our nation’s libraries really are. For us to be able to do that, we need your help. That’s why we’re asking you to start a monthly donation of just $1, $3, or $5 per month. We’ll put your donations to work educating Americans and especially American voters about one of our finest institutions: Our Libraries.

Of course, that’s not to say that Amazon doesn’t have a place in our lives because libraries and Amazon are simply not in competition. Libraries make significant purchases from Amazon for everything from books to post-it notes. Many of our services like Overdrive use Amazon as it’s content delivery system. And, if you want to sign up for Amazon Smile, you can add the EveryLibrary Institute or your local library as one of your recipients when you make purchases from Amazon Smile.”


On Sunday afternoon we wrote to you to let you know about a terribly researched and poorly written article that tried to argue that Amazon should replace libraries. The article was written by Panos Mourdoukoutas, an economics professor at Long Island University and had the headline- “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money.”

In response to this article, we wrote and published one of our own and thousands of you shared our post and responded to the author’s tweets. Many of you also donated and started monthly donations that we used to educate Americans, voters, and politicians about the importance and efficiency of libraries. Your donations will also help us support libraries at the ballot box so they can win the funding they need to continue to serve their community.

Thanks to your action and support, Forbes has removed the article from their website.

In fact, in an official statement from Forbes, they said; “Forbes advocates spirited dialogue on a range of topics, including those that often take a contrarian view. Libraries play an important role in our society. This article was outside of this contributor’s specific area of expertise, and has since been removed.”

JOIN US- The sentiment expressed by Panos isn’t new. In fact, we are seeing articles like this arising more frequently. The only way to push back against the growing anti-library sentiment is to reach more Americans and educate them about the importance and impact of libraries on the everyday lives of our nation’s citizens. We can do that with your support in two ways;

  • Invited your friends and family to like us on Facebook so that we can quickly reach more Americans in times of crisis. If you do, and you let us know here, we’ll send you some library art in the mail.
  • Make a one-time or a monthly donation to help us reach Americans who don’t follow us on social media. Every $10 helps us reach 1,000 people.

In case you missed the article, Mourdoukoutas argued that local libraries are no longer useful. If libraries closed, he wrote, taxpayers would save money, and Amazon could open bookstores to provide those communities with physical books.

“[Libraries] don’t have the same value they used to,” the article argued. The functions of the library, Mourdoukoutas said, have been replaced: community and wifi are now provided by Starbucks; video rentals by Netflix and Amazon Prime; and books by Amazon.

“Technology has turned physical books into collector’s items, effectively eliminating the need for library borrowing services,” Mourdoukoutas wrote, despite the fact that print book sales from traditional publishing houses are steady. Mourdoukoutas also made the unsubstantiated claim that “some people have started using their loyalty card at Starbucks more than they use their library card.” If the “professor” had done the kind of research he could have done at his library, he would have found that there are more libraries in the United States than Starbucks making this final claim laughable at best.

Patrick “PC” Sweeney
Political Director”




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Posted on: July 24, 2018, 11:12 am Category: Uncategorized

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