Should all public libraries be closed?

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Izawwlgood
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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Dec 11, 2015 4:53 pm UTC

Another place ebooks are superior - self published small scale authors. While the deals aren't great on Amazon, it is WAY easier for someone to get and spread their work if they've been rejected by publishers. I will gladly pay a buck for the self-published book a poster on /r/WritingPrompts advertises if I've seen and enjoyed their work.
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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby Neil_Boekend » Thu Dec 17, 2015 12:47 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Neither an e-reader nor a novel can be left in the rain.
While I agree that it isn't wise to leave most e-readers in the rain the Kobo H2O is waterresistant*.

* they claim waterproof but for that the USB port cover must be closed. These covers usually close properly for a couple of times and then start to leak. Ergo I would only consider it waterresistant untill they build it with a waterproof USB port. IP67 gives NO information on whether the device is still waterproof after you've used and charged it a few times. Only that the device still works after you dump it in water and let it stay there for an hour, assuming every seal new and properly closed. I consider IP67 devices at most waterresistant unless the manufacturer took additional care to make it actually work.
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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby jewish_scientist » Thu Dec 17, 2015 2:29 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Another place ebooks are superior - self published small scale authors. While the deals aren't great on Amazon, it is WAY easier for someone to get and spread their work if they've been rejected by publishers. I will gladly pay a buck for the self-published book a poster on /r/WritingPrompts advertises if I've seen and enjoyed their work.

I agree with you, but this point is a little irrelevant. Physical libraries can lend physical and digital books, while digital libraries can only lend digital books. The issue here is more about how the books are distributed, not what books are bought by the public libraries.

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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Dec 17, 2015 2:34 pm UTC

The bigger point, I think, was that "digital" libraries would still require physical buildings....
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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby sardia » Mon Dec 28, 2015 2:24 am UTC

Public library's have experiences mission creep, but I don't understand how this is a bad thing. It's just a fancy way of reallocating resources to suit the public need. Right now Libraries are a critical source for the disconnected and poor, for example
1. to have a professional looking contact email
2. research the mundane things we take for granted, like how to sew your clothes or fix your car.
3. somewhere warm to stay.

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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby johnmuir » Tue Jan 19, 2016 5:34 am UTC

elasto wrote:Just throwing something a bit mad out there (or is it?)

Using the UK as an example: There are approximately 4,000 public libraries, costing about a billion pounds a year to maintain.

What if we closed them all down and instead we bought every household in the country an e-reader equipped with a prepaid SIM card for anywhere downloading of books?

There are about 26m households in the UK, so if each e-reader cost £50 that'd be about £1.3Bn - or about the cost of running the public library system for a year. And, heck, selling off those 4,000 buildings could easily raise that much capital anyhow.

Ok, so to discuss some of the complications:

> There are still 'running costs' - ie. reimbursing the copyright holders for loaning out the books and paying the monthly bandwidth costs
-- Not sure what proportion of the current £1Bn yearly costs that represents, but with no staffing costs or heating bills etc., one would hope that perhaps it'd cost 80% less than now. (E-books should cost far less than physical books anyhow - and the government could make that a law if it had to...)
-- Readers could theoretically make a contribution - let's say a small fee per month and per book - depending on whether we wanted this whole thing funded from central taxation or split with consumers.
-- The whole thing could be self-sufficient if we really wanted (or even make a profit!)

> The e-readers could get broken, lost, stolen or simply sold off
-- They could. Perhaps schools could have spare e-readers they allow children to use while on the premises for when a household fails to take care of theirs. And replacement e-readers could of course be bought by a household if it's genuinely lost. Perhaps the first replacement could be free also or something

> The SIM cards could be abused - hacked to download other things or to make calls
-- Seems to me that, in theory at least, the telecoms companies could block it at their end: Such SIM cards only being allowed to download books, with a fail-safe cutoff if a disproportionate amount of data is downloaded. Obviously that would up the initial funding cost though.

> Libraries don't just loan out books
-- Sure, and that's part of what I hope to explore here. I know they loan out music, but there seems little need for that in 2015 and free streaming services. Plus it's not of the same social and educational importance as reading. (Personally I wouldn't be averse to every household having publicly funded broadband too, but I don't want to muddle this thread too much :D )
-- They also provide some kind of community focal point, put on education classes, allow people to go online for free etc. But it seems to me other bodies could take this aspect on.

---

Terrible idea or worth exploring?



There's something to be said both for reading physical books (I enjoy it much more and the batteries never die) as well as the location. This is particularly true in my case when I know generally what I'm in the mood for but I don't have a specific title in mind - I enjoy going to the biographies section for instance and skimming through until I find an interesting biography to read. As you may guess from my name I most recently picked up a biography of the naturalist John Muir (very interesting dude!)

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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby DanD » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:34 pm UTC

Libraries also act as archives of physical documents. Depending on the library and town or city, they're where you can (easily) find old copies of your newspaper of record, historical maps, town council minutes from fifty years ago, and so on. Now much of this will, eventually, be digitized, but it hasn't been yet. And even once it has, if digitizing was all that mattered, no one would be upset about the destruction of Palmyra, because we have photographs.

Additionally, there are reference librarians. I realize that I am typing this on a system that will get me access to almost any knowledge that I know to ask. But at least currently, it doesn't help so much with the questions you don't know how to ask (in checking my next example, someone couldn't find historical examples because they were searching for "viking knit" not Trichinopoly), or differentiation between possibly correct answers (Trichinopoly is a viking wire weaving technique, a city in India, and Cigars made in that city).

And, it's really hard to browse a digital library. Someone may, eventually, solve this one but at present, the best "you should check this out" algorithm still isn't as useful as being able to walk in and grab books off the shelves and read the blurb or scan the first few pages.

Eventually, yes, libraries may be unnecessary, but we're a long way from that today.

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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby PAstrychef » Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:19 pm UTC

It's also nice to remember that we do live in a physical world. Kids might have fun playing at using a pick axe or taming a cow In Minecraft, but those skills are in no way related to the actual tasks.
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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby BattleMoose » Mon May 02, 2016 4:13 am UTC

One point that has only been very lightly touched upon, is that libraries serve as a quiet place for study.

For unrelated reasons I was touring the Melbourne State Library, it is a destination in its own right. But there wasn't an empty desk, and there were many desks. But it was crammed with university studies studying. This is probably influenced by the fact that a large fraction of university students are in shared accommodation and their homes are often not quiet, or there aren't desks, or heaven forbid, no internet.

This service is primarily needed by poorer people of society and the provision of this service serves as an equalizer for a meritocracy that we value and to help people improve their lot in life.

I was fortunate enough to always have a quiet place for study, but I can imagine the hell of not having one and spending a huge amount on fees, et cetera.

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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby AffinityDesigner » Tue May 10, 2016 2:55 pm UTC

Agreed that libraries stand for more than just a place to house books. And the main problem that I see of depriving people of this type of safe heaven is a money factor. Closing public libraries and handing everyone an e-reader doesn't help if you need to pay for the content you read, and doesn't help if you are one of surprisingly many that use their public library for an internet connection.

Of course ebooks and finding scholarly articles online are good too, in and of their own right, but the fact is that the public library is a physical space to go to for multiple reasons. When you're a kid trying to think of something to do after school...the library is always open. Or a university student that needs a quiet place to study. It's a space of public access.

Yes archived manuscripts can be digitized and put online to be perused, but there is nothing quite like seeing original manuscripts from an author that you are studying right in front of you.

There is a tangibleness to libraries that nothing can replace.

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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby Zohar » Tue May 10, 2016 3:14 pm UTC

Technically I suppose you could provide e-readers and free wifi, and some libraries do allow loans of e-books, so you could still keep the costs down. But yeah, there are other reasons too. Libraries are also one of the main spaces where you can contact the local community, and that's great for various reasons - the neighborhood feel, it's a great access point for local NGOs to encounter possible clients...
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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue May 10, 2016 3:19 pm UTC

I'm currently working in the National Library of Medicine, and no one in my office uses physical documentation of anything. Even submitting my employment documentation to the company was done digitally.

I view - and I feel like the NLM does too - libraries as principally serving as alternative but not primary access points to books/documentation, or as archives for historical 'book type things'. There's a big effort for example to preserve a bunch of ancient medical texts ('ancient' meaning 'anything older than 50 years, really, and stretching back impressively far), but it's most certainly for historical, not 'information access' purposes.

That said, my view on libraries has shifted as towards the end of my thesis I was hanging out with a friend who used his local library extensively, and was quite impressed with the utility of a library as a central community space. I'd happily see funds allocated for libraries and library activities.
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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby PAstrychef » Tue May 10, 2016 3:31 pm UTC

And any information that has not yet been digitized from journals and such sources was simply not seen by your colleagues.
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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby Zohar » Tue May 10, 2016 3:32 pm UTC

Personally pretty much all my books are loaned from libraries. I'm not really the target demographic for a lot of the services they offer (not a citizen or poor) so I definitely don't make the most of them that other people might.
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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue May 10, 2016 3:46 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:And any information that has not yet been digitized from journals and such sources was simply not seen by your colleagues.

Considering the work is 'digitizing results records starting from 2007 onward' I think that's alright. But unrelated to what I specifically am doing, a lot of modern science isn't really in the habit of citing sources that haven't already been digitized. I'm sure there's some variation in a field dependent manner, but I would be very surprised if any Nature or Cell publications in the last 5 years referenced anything that wasn't digitized.

Zohar wrote:Personally pretty much all my books are loaned from libraries.
Lately I prefer reading on my kindle, but I still like having novels in physical form too. I could safe so much money if I simply went to the library, and really should get better at doing so.
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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby Zohar » Tue May 10, 2016 4:28 pm UTC

Wait, you're in the US right? There's a good chance your local library lets you loan books for kindle. I get my digital books online straight from Brooklyn Public Library website. I know Denver does a similar thing, you should look. You can also ask to have books ordered for you in some libraries, if they don't have it available. The books are loaned for a specific amount of time (two weeks in my case), after which they're erased from your device, but if you keep your device offline they won't get erased - so you can just not connect your kindle to wifi until you finish reading, then connect it, the book will get removed (no fines or penalties), and you can get new books.
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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby Lucrece » Sat May 14, 2016 6:38 am UTC

It's important to keep in mind that people also go to a library because it's a much better studying/work environment than home. If you're in a household with 3 other siblings plus your parents making a lot of noise and distractions, you probably want to head to the library.

More importantly, libraries have librarians you can walk up to for assistance with research and catalog questions. No machine will ever be able to fill that position; we all hate those miserable FAQ's and automated services at the bank/cable provider phone lines. You gain direct feedback and have resources at your finger tips.

I'm all for digitization, but there are aspects of the physical items and services that digitization simply will not substitute well. If you bought some extra books not available on your library, you can donate them. Don't expect the same to happen with digital libraries.

Some physical libraries even have private study/presentation rooms that you would miss on a digital library to practice for your speech classes or rehearse any presentations, let alone lead active study groups.

I don't think there is anything inherently flawed with public libraries: People just don't like to read as much anymore, because reading is a passive enterprise whereas now new media has come out where you can have more interactive methods of communication that are more entertaining to the general population.
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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat May 14, 2016 1:10 pm UTC

Eh, I'm sure this is community dependent, but I never went to the library to study, even really in high school. I had other quiet spaces, or local coffee shops, restaurants, and weather permitting, outdoor spaces. I completely understand this is community dependent, and some communities absolutely need a space designated for this.

I also find that librarians knowledge of a particular topic is typically less useful then google. Frankly, google, wikipedia, and pubmed are superior for answering questions at a certain point, though I wager were I after more introductory material, a librarian would be more than capable of finding it for me.

The point about donating old materials is completely valid, and definitely one of the services I think libraries are useful for. I always hated selling my textbooks back to the college for quarter price only to watch the college resell them for nearly full price the following year, and would have gladly eaten the cost knowing it was going to a library.

And this;
Lucrece wrote:People just don't like to read as much anymore
I think you're actually super duper wrong about this. I think if anything people are reading more then ever, though I'm finding mixed reports about it on the googles. Printed media is evidently up for the first time in like a decade, but I think in part due to the massive successes of series like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones, publishing houses are more than ever willing to take risks on authors of less popular genres, or targeting demographics other than 'adults'.
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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby Dark567 » Tue May 24, 2016 5:16 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I think you're actually super duper wrong about this. I think if anything people are reading more then ever, though I'm finding mixed reports about it on the googles. Printed media is evidently up for the first time in like a decade, but I think in part due to the massive successes of series like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones, publishing houses are more than ever willing to take risks on authors of less popular genres, or targeting demographics other than 'adults'.
People today actually read immensely more overall than a generation ago, but it just tends to be much shorter format than previously(mostly due to the internet).
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Re: Should all public libraries be closed?

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Jun 01, 2016 6:10 pm UTC

Twitter, Reddit, and Tumblr are what most people read today.

Considering that people used to read gossip magazines, I'd say that's an overall improvement on society.
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