Librarians Defend Their Public Value

by ALEXANDRA LOYD

Recently, Forbes ignited internet fury by releasing a (now deleted) op-ed about the benefits of replacing libraries with Amazon. The basic argument was that libraries are costing taxpayers too much money, and that Amazon would diminish these costs, as people can just buy their books with Prime or download them to their Kindles. Many people were upset by this proposal, including librarians in Rochester.

The Rochester Hills Public Library has been around since 1924, and have been in their current building since 1992. The library offers much more than just free books. “Libraries are constantly making progressive decisions ahead of retail counterparts because they’re not driven by profit,” shared Amanda Harrison Keighley, RHPL’s Community Relations Specialist. “The Library provides lifelong learning opportunities, instills a love of reading, and offers equal access to information. It serves as a community town square, where over 45,000 monthly visitors enjoy innovative ways to learn and socialize through a variety of programs including concerts, summer reading challenges, parent-child workshops, and weekly lectures.”

The library offers much more than just books, including physical services and resources that online retailers can’t offer.

The Rochester Hills Public Library, along with libraries nationwide, offers free e-books, movies, music downloads, language and genealogy services, and consumer reports from the comfort of cardholder’s homes. These are just a few examples of physical things you can get for free at your local library.

Libraries also offer many services by trained librarians. “Our librarians are experts in information technology so when you’re looking for reliable resources for news or research they can help you determine the credibility of the sources,” shared Keighley. “We’re a certified Family Place Libraries member, which means we also work with parents to lay the foundation for reading skills in their children. We offer caregiver training, story times, gross motor play, explorer zones, and pre school fairs.”

“RHPL is fortunate to have one of the most supportive communities imaginable,” said Keighley. The public library has over 45,000 monthly visitors, two million checkouts a year, and over 30,000 people per year attending their programs. And how can you, a Rochester resident help make sure the library doesn’t disappear?

“Please keep coming! You’re the reason that we’re here!”

Libraries are a quiet place to sit down, work, learn, and experience something new with thousands of free resources at your fingertips. They’re so much more than just books, and the benefits seem well worth the $4 a month in taxes to keep them around, for unlimited access to everything all the time, unlike Amazon, who doesn’t offer a set rate for its items, and charges an additional price for every movie or song you’d want to download.

“Every community needs a town square, a place for everyone, with something for everyone, and as long as we maintain our commitment to serving our community and their needs, we can’t be replaced.”