Opinion: Amazon, Please Leave Libraries Alone

Jessica Mannhaupt, Staff Writer

Libraries are not places for old books to collect dust, as it is commonly misconceived. In fact, for  many, libraries are a significant part of life. Take me, for example, an employee at the Farmingdale Public Library for a year and a half. When I heard talk about libraries potentially being shut down for good and taken over by Amazon Books, I was immediately shocked.

A Forbes article written by Panos Mourdoukoutas on July 21st expressed the belief  that libraries should be shut down and replaced by Amazon Books. With a hilarious amount of backlash, the article was deleted two days later, but you can read the misinformed article here. When I came to work that day, I walked right into a heated topic of conversation between the librarians. How could libraries go extinct when they offer so much to the community? My co-workers explained that the writer of the Forbes article was adamant about how Amazon Books will soon be the better option because it would “save taxpayers money.” This seemed absurd to me. Seeing the behind the scenes at the local library, I witness first hand how much they  contribute to the community. “It’s frustrating when people hold antiquated views of libraries as mainly book-providers. They fail to see the value of libraries, and all that they contribute to our communities. Libraries today offer so many useful programs, resources, and services that benefit all members of the community, from infants through the elderly,” said my co-worker, Gabriella Trinchetta, a children’s librarian in Farmingdale. At least once a week, I assist the children’s librarians with thoughtful programs for the youth, incorporating story times with crafts. These services are crucial to the faithful patrons who want the best for their young children. Disregarding the benefits of the contribution of libraries is ignorant.

The group of people that would be most affected by libraries closing would be the large population of underprivileged. Libraries provides free wifi and computers for people who can’t afford to have these luxuries at home. During my time working at the library, I’ve seen people spend most of their day at the library just to have somewhere to sit and lounge. Mourdoukoutas argued that we already have establishments that provide the same things, such as Starbucks and other coffee shops. This is a weak argument because Starbucks does not have the same community feel as a library does. Establishments like Starbucks also do not provide reference librarians who can answer any question asked. As well as the lack of community, coffee shops often require customers to purchase something from the shop in order for them to sit at a table.

Mourdoukoutas also argued that shutting down libraries would save taxpayers money, but how much would they really save by getting rid of libraries? In 2017, my local library stated that Farmingdale citizens pay a range of $130 to $194 a year in library taxes, or 34 to 53 cents a day. I personally do not think that this is an unreasonable price to pay for all the beneficial services they provide to the community. However, Mourdoukoutas apparently disagrees, writing on Rwitter, “Let me clarify something. Local libraries aren’t free. Homeowners must pay a local library tax. My bill is $495/year.” People like him need to realize that libraries are not just about statistics on monthly bills. Libraries are crucial to the connection of each community and no one should ever be deprived of all the wonders libraries provide.


* photo via Google Images under the Creative Commons license