CNET Editor: "The library? How quaint!"

Topic: 
Brian Cooley, <a href="http://www.cnet.com/profile/briancnet/">CNET's senior technology commentator and editor at large</a>, offers his view of libraries during a segment about Kindle's new library services on the <a href="http://www.cnet.com/8301-19709_1-20055867-10.html">April 20, 2011 "Buzz Out Loud" podcast</a> (starting at 14:00 minutes): <blockquote>I'm still a little vague on this. Why would I go or deal with a library to borrow a book? You don't have to go there, right? This is weird. Why would a library have anything to do with virtual books? It doesn't make sense. Locality is about physical books. They're physically available in a certain place, so your library houses them, but once they're virtual, locality goes out the door. It's weird. The library thing is real divisive. We can start a hate storm. I mean, I'm sorry folks, but I don't get libraries. In this day and age, I don't get libraries. Great air conditioning, good place to nap, right? Libraries are for the very old and the very unemployed. I'm sorry, that's where it's at right now. It doesn't make sense anymore. The local library's really starting to get shaky to my mind, unless it's for the poor, the unemployed, the homeless, and the very old. That's what libraries are for now. What kid in high school is going to get anything out of the library? Seriously, you've got some ninety-year-old reference librarian who's going to point you to what, a Britannica volume to look something up? All you've got to do is Google. For crying out loud. Getting out is fine, but there are plenty of bars. You don't need to go to libraries to get out of the house. How does the library "defend your right to free information"? The Internet's already got that done, folks. What do you mean, "for people who read"? Who on earth needs to go to a library to get a book? Crazy town! The library? How quaint!</blockquote>

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I'm guessing that this guy is one of the (unfortunately) many people who rarely reads. Otherwise he would a) know what a library does, b) realize the issues involved in digital readers and digital lending (uh, legally, right now you CAN'T lend the same copy of an e-book out multiple times at once, hello, DRM?) and why even those people who could afford an e-book reader might not want one yet, and c) realize that you cannot support a heavy reading habit on even a good salary, particularly if you're paying e-book prices and not buying them used. I grew up in the country, in a poor family. The library practically saved my life because I could read as much as I wanted for free. And use the computers, because I didn't own one until I went off for college (where, guess what, I still used the library!). There were no bookstores in my town, no internet cafes. There still aren't. Libraries aren't quaint, you pretentious hipster, they're vital. Try stepping foot in one sometime and talking to the people there, and maybe you'd realize that.

There's too much to say, and too many people have already said it. But I have to chime in about kids.

No parent, no matter how affluent, can afford to buy all of the books that a child might want or benefit from; hence, a library system is a boon to the family. A young child attempting his or her first research report quickly becomes overwhelmed and goes astray when attempting to find information on-line, whereas at the library, look up stations and knowledgeable librarians are available to quickly and painlessly guide the child to books, videos and other media specifically tailored to the child's age and reading level. This, without pop-ups leading to porn sites and malware.

My children (middle school age) do not understand that Google is a site without content; asked "where did you find that information?" they respond, "On Google." They do not understand that the search results come up based on paid promotion. Furthermore, books are copy-edited and fact checked; websites can be posted by anyone without verification. Just the other day, my son was at a school-sponsored website that contained incorrect information on his research topic. We cannot just set children adrift in the uncharted waters of the Internet and pretend that they are better off.

Children need books, and therefore, children need libraries. It is truly that simple.

Wow. The library is still my best resource for research material to be completely honest. I had a hell of a time finding good online sources for my European history project a little while ago for example (seriously, try looking up Cape to Cairo without finding a damn tourism site), but I did a quick book check and got a good source in a cinch. Books are not outdated; the internet really didn't replace them. You can get good info dumps online, but if you want an actual, well thought out, well planned, easy to use resource, find a good book.

Physical: Lending physical media is a broken, exclusive model.

It is. But the alternative requires money from the user in many ways, the medium (eg pc), the power to run that medium and ongoing costs to the delivery service (eg internet access) not to mention the cost of a new digital copy each time you want a new item. Yes you're not stopping someone else from accessing the copy, but you have to buy a new copy to gain that access.
For someone that works in the IT world you seem to have no idea of the basic ideas of copyright, licensing, legaility, the business world that you work for.

Even if ever single last book on the planet were digitized and made available through an online archive accessible to all, that archive would still not be a library.

To say it again: a library is not merely an archive.

Librarians are not simply people who look things up or help people search. Librarians are so much more than that.

To say it again: a librarian is not merely a human search engine.

Libraries have long ago incorporated the Internet into their research capabilities and services, but we in the field and in the know, on daily basis, are sorely reminded how deficient the Internet can often be as a tool for finding even basic information.

We never simply "Google it."

Librarians classify information, identify potential sources and strategies for patrons, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

We are involved with intellectual, creative, and social efforts no search engine, no social networking website, and not even the Web itself can replace or hope to automate.

We must, as never before, as librarians and advocates of access to information in all its forms and for all people, educate the masses so that there will be fewer ill-informed commentaries about the supposed irrelevance or "quaintness" of libraries.

Technology is not knowledge. Technology is not power. Technology is a tool and nothing more.

Google was not nor will it ever be your personal friend and tireless advocate.

Librarians are essential, we are current, we are relevant, we are educators, friends, saviors to many, especially the have-nots and the technologically-challenged, and we are protectors of intellectual freedom and your rights to information.

Diminish or take away our abilities to do these things, and communities will be the lesser for it.

The time has come for librarians to stand up and let the world know what we do.

I do not mean to preach to the choir. I mean for us to be the choir.

Let us be heard loud and clear and never be doubted again. Be persistent and positive.

Let us speak in one voice against ignorance and informational tyranny.

Let us, as we once did, take our communities further than technology can reach.

Let us make them hopeful again and recommit ourselves to all that we do best.

And let no contrary voices distract us from these far more important achievements.

So much depends on our success!

We must succeed!

And we will!

Even if every single last book on the planet were digitized and made available through an online archive accessible to all, that archive would still not be a library.

To say it again: a library is not merely an archive.

Librarians are not simply people who look things up or help people search. Librarians are so much more than that.

To say it again: a librarian is not merely a human search engine.

Libraries have long ago incorporated the Internet into their research capabilities and services, but we in the field and in the know, on daily basis, are sorely reminded how deficient the Internet can often be as a tool for finding even basic information.

We never simply "Google it."

Librarians classify information, identify potential sources and strategies for patrons, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

We are involved with intellectual, creative, and social efforts no search engine, no social networking website, and not even the Web itself can replace or hope to automate.

We must, as never before, as librarians and advocates of access to information in all its forms and for all people, educate the masses so that there will be fewer ill-informed commentaries about the supposed irrelevance or "quaintness" of libraries.

Technology is not knowledge. Technology is not power. Technology is a tool and nothing more.

Google was not nor will it ever be your personal friend and tireless advocate.

Librarians are essential, we are current, we are relevant, we are educators, friends, saviors to many, especially the have-nots and the technologically-challenged, and we are protectors of intellectual freedom and your rights to information.

Diminish or take away our abilities to do these things, and communities will be the lesser for it.

The time has come for librarians to stand up and let the world know what we do.

I do not mean to preach to the choir. I mean for us to be the choir.

Let us be heard loud and clear and never be doubted again. Be persistent and positive.

Let us speak in one voice against ignorance and informational tyranny.

Let us, as we once did, take our communities further than technology can reach.

Let us make them hopeful again and recommit ourselves to all that we do best.

And let no contrary voices distract us from these far more important achievements.

So much depends on our success!

We must succeed!

And we will!

We are one Carrington Event (a severe solar storm) away from losing our electrical infrastructure. All our underground resources (oil, minerals) are finite. Just because we have e-book readers now doesn't mean we will always have the means to support this technology. Paper books are more durable and reproducible, as well as more recyclable than electronic readers. Don't get me wrong; there's a place for both forms of reading material. Let's just not be short-sighted.

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