‘Libraries should be replaced by Amazon bookstores’ sets internet ablaze

Zhao !/Flickr MonicaDien/Twitter (CC-BY) Remix by Samantha Grasso

Librarians are ripping this idea to shreds.

Hell hath no fury like a librarian told that the library’s free services should be obsolete.

Over the weekend, librarians and library supporters completely shut down a Forbes article that went viral for asserting that public libraries should be replaced by brick-and-mortar Amazon Books locations.

In the piece, viewed nearly 200,000 times by Forbes‘ account, the writer, Panos Mourdoukoutas, argued that society and Amazon could benefit from Amazon Books’ takeover of libraries.

Not only would taxpayers be free of that pesky library tax, he wrote, but Amazon could increase its stock value (because, you know, benefitting a private company should be reason enough to eliminate a public resource). Gone were the days of community spaces, research resources, and free movies and TV shows—Starbucks draws in writers and researchers with coffee, Mourdoukoutas argued, so that whole “usable public space” problem is taken care of.

Mourdoukoutas’ tweet of his article received a few hundred retweets and likes, but thousands of replies, the likes of which filled with people telling him how misguided and ignorant his article was.

Across Twitter, library workers and users obliterated Mourdoukoutas’ article, tearing it apart from thesis to conclusion, wondering if his arguments would have been as poorly formed if he had just properly done his research on libraries and their offerings at a proper library. Critics pointed out that not only are private spaces like Starbucks not free to use, but Amazon Books itself doesn’t have access to the kinds of resources that libraries provide, particularly out-of-print books, magazines, and other media.

Others read between the lines of the writers’ argument, coming to understand that he just wants to get rid of the libraries’ services altogether, and doesn’t understand what it’s like to not have the funds to just rent out a public space yourself or buy a cup of coffee to use the internet for free.

“It wouldn’t save taxpayers a dime, & would harm marginalized communities,” writer Mikki Kendall tweeted. “It is clear you haven’t been in a library & assume that means no one else goes to them.”

Current and former librarians themselves scolded the writer at the idea that libraries could be at all replaced.

“I work in a public library and since lots of grade school libraries are closing due to funding problems, teachers bring their whole classes into got books,” Twitter user Rue Burlingham wrote. “This is the only public service that works for everyone—old or young, rich or poor. Privatizing is a terrible idea.”

Mourdoukoutas, however, wasn’t having it. On Twitter, he expressed that he still really likes the idea of cutting libraries to cut taxes—as if taxpayers and library users are not one in the same.

While we might not be able to reconcile Mourdoukoutas’ math in all this,  there are probably a few other things we can agree on.

Going to the library next time you want to use factual resources on your library takedown piece: free.

Watching this guy schooled by a group of librarians for being utterly wrong about libraries: priceless.

Samantha Grasso

Samantha Grasso

Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.