Thursday, October 13, 2011

Facebook Politics

I occasionally get sucked into political diatribes on Facebook. Sometimes I take the bait.


Michael _______:
I have not been to a public library in years. They are no longer relevant and are a drain on the local tax base. has a much better selection of books.


Michael, I know you're just looking for an argument. I'll begrudgingly take the bait. I'm glad to hear that you are financially well off enough (by pulling yourself up by your bootstraps or whathaveyou) to not have to put up with public libraries. But what about the other people living in Williamsburg? Since you enjoy Wikipedia so much, perhaps you should look at this page: — “The per capita income for the city is $18,483. 18.3% of the population and 9.3% of families are below the poverty line.” While you may have the financial stability to buy books from Amazon (which has a bigger selection anyway), what about the nearly 1 in 5 of the people around you who live below the poverty line but still pay taxes that go to providing them access to public libraries? What about their desire to rise above their socio-economic trappings? Would you have them pull themselves up by their own bootstraps without having access to information? Oh, but they have Wikipedia, right? On their laptops and internet connections at home? That they’re able to afford comfortably while they’re living below the poverty line?

You’re also in a very historic area, famous for being near the first colonies in America. Have you thought of the millions of immigrants around the United States who have used public libraries? They read materials in their own language, yes, but many also learn English at their libraries. They meet there with librarians to learn about technology, with book groups to discuss readings, with conversation groups to learn how to speak other languages. Libraries are much more than book repositories — they’re social spaces, they’re information hubs, they’re technology hotspots.

And how about this other Wikipedia factoid: "In various cost-benefit studies libraries continue to provide an exceptional return on the dollar. A 2008 survey discusses comprehensively the prospects for increased funding in the United States, saying in conclusion 'There is sufficient, but latent, support for increased library funding among the voting population.'" —

[I'll note here that all this discussion was couched within a thread that was started about Rick Scott's insensitive comments about the study of anthropology.]

The problem with Rick Scott’s statement here about anthropology is that he pretended to know something about higher education, the liberal arts, and how they fit into the economy. The problem with your statement here about libraries is that you don’t know jack shit about libraries because you never go to them.

You write about benefiting the individual American, but when you say that — admit it — you really just mean yourself.

1 comment:

  1. And the response from Michael was...

    Justin, the library issue is insignificant in a country that is taking away our freedom to control our own health. So I am willing to let that one go and continue to pay for it through my local taxes. I have used libraries many times and I like them. Even though I don't think they need to be run by government and paid for by taxing people who could use that money for something more useful in their lives. Like food or clothing for their kids. I know. Libraries are more important than food.