Thursday, February 21, 2013

Libraries are "no longer relevant"?

I can't believe this one. Author Terry Deary is quoted as saying that libraries have had their day and that there is no entitlement to read for free.

The entire article is from the Christian Science Monitor, here. To me at least, his entire argument makes no sense at all.

As someone who loves libraries, (and who, by the way, has ended up going out and buying a lot of books after borrowing them) his argument that libraries hurt authors and publishers because people will read their books from the library instead of buying them is complete nonsense.

Terry Deary is, by the way, the author of the Horrible Histories series, which, irony of ironies is in 7th place for most borrowed children's books in the libraries of the United Kingdom.

What do you think? Does his argument make sense to you?


Unknown said...

Yeah, this kind of thing crops up every once in a while, and it gets a bit tiresome; it also feeds the general insecurity of librarians everywhere. As a profession we tend to have a massive inferiority complex. I don't think we need to.

The problem with people who feel that libraries are no longer relevant is that they haven't been in one lately. Though we are still about books, we're not just about books. We're about electronic resources, we're about access to the internet, we're about access to information for *all* not just the few who can afford it. Public libraries were conceived of as the great leveller, providing free education to everyone, and we still fulfill that function. Not everyone can afford an internet connection. Not everyone can afford a book. No one can afford all the books their children want to and should read. Libraries promote joy in reading and literacy, which is good for authors, publishers, and society at large.

There's my thoughts, in a (large!) nutshell! But then, I'm biased... I'm a public librarian...

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comment Kiirstin. I agree completely with you. Too many fond memories of going to the library as a kid and going right up to the borrowing limit I guess (and I had cards at 4 different libraries).

Your bias is perfectly acceptable (and needed IMHO).

Jenn said...

I found the idea of libraries no longer relevant offensive. I work at a library and am an avid reader and patron. I have seen how libraries foster reading in children especially. It also enabled those who love to read but don't have the budget to buy everything they want to read to enjoy novels at their leisure.

It's very odd to me that an author would complain about libraries. I for one have an automatic buy list of authors that I love. I found a few of these authors because I borrowed their books from the library.

Unknown said...

I'm the same way Jenn. His whole argument made no sense to me. It seems to boil down to "if you don't have the money to buy books, tough luck. Read your school books and good luck."

The school probably won't have a library either, or at least not a good one.

I also discovered several favourite authors at the library (albeit some of them from friend's recommendations first) which I've been a steady buyer of since, including Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton.

And then, there's the other side of the argument too - non fiction. When I was in college and university, I actually was able to find a lot of reference works at my local libraries for term papers and research. Saved me a few trips out to the university library, and at times the books were borrowable vs. reference. Is he suggesting that students should be out of luck as well? Making it harder for them to learn?

I'm no librarian like the two of you, but this guy gets me hot under the collar too.

Thanks for commenting Jenn.


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