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One more time – No, Amazon Cannot Replace Libraries

Vice: “In Saturday, Forbes published an article titled “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money,” that elicited extremely strong backlash on Twitter from librarians and library patrons alike. The article has since been taken down, though the (extremely ratioed) tweet from the author about it remains. In the article, writer Panos Mourdoukoutas argued that libraries are no longer important to the community as the result of alternative “third places” like Starbucks, and “no shortage of places to hold community events,” as well as streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime and the rise of e-books that have “turned physical books into collector’s items, effectively eliminating the need for library borrowing services.” Hundreds of Twitter users took to the platform to share both their anger with the piece and their love for libraries. People seemed to especially take issue with the author picking Amazon—notorious for its horrible treatment of employees, and accusations of ruining the cities it opens warehouses in—as a potential replacement. Obviously, as the outrage from these users demonstrates, libraries are beloved and important in communities. Mourdoukoutas’s argument that libraries are becoming less useful is patently false, in a way that’s fairly obvious. But the notion that libraries aren’t worth their value to taxpayers—one that fails to take into account the financial returns of a library and expenses of buying these items on one’s own—fails to address the vast importance a library has on its community as a physical space open to anyone in the public…”

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