Stupid Question of the Day: Do we still need libraries?
You may think you’ve seen it all, but you really haven’t until you’ve seen this horrid “investigative” report by Chicago’s Fox affiliate, covering the all-important question of the day: Do we need libraries?
The “report” swerves between overwhelmingly terrible and hilarious. At one point, they use an “undercover” camera to spy on local people at Chicago’s Harold Washington Library. A local anti-tax spokeperson says we have the internet and paperbacks, so why do we need libraries?
Because not everyone has the internet, you fools, or even a computer. Those things cost money, and not everyone has it these days. Why are library attendance and borrowing rates on the rise? Because people need those things and they don’t have the cash to get them.
Forty percent of Chicagoans have little or no access to the internet, and 25 percent have no access at all. For these people, libraries are one of the only places that they can use the internet for free. As more and more services move online, the internet is becoming a vital resource. Want to get an apartment? These days, craigslist is the only place to look. Paying a bill or checking your bank account? Searching for a job? Need to apply for food stamps? You need the internet.
In addition, community libraries are a safe place where kids and families can go, something that’s not easy to find in many communities. Altgeld Gardens, a low-income public housing development on the far South Side, is still struggling without a library.
With the city, state and the federal government strapped for cash, I suppose everything’s on the table when it comes to cutting funding. But libraries? Really, Fox news? Those of us who have regular internet access forget that many, many people don’t and libraries are their only lifeline in an increasingly digital world.
The Reader’s Whet Moser said it best:
Did you know that they cost money that could be used for other things? Did you know there’s the Internet? And paperbacks?
Did you know that if you were at the Harold Washington Library the other day that someone at Fox News may have been filming you with a hidden camera to figure out if people are USING THE LIBRARY?
Did you know we’re doomed?