Monday, June 22, 2015

Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google.

Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google. Amien Essif. AlterNet. May 23, 2015.
     This article is in response to the book BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google. Of all the public and private institutions we have, the public library is the truest democratic space. The library’s value is obvious.  A Gallup survey found that libraries are not just popular, they are extremely popular. "Over 90% of Americans feel that libraries are a vital part of their communities, compared to 53% for the police, 27% for public schools, and 7% for Congress. This is perhaps the greatest success of the public sector."

Yet, a government report showed that while the nation’s public libraries served 298 million people in 2010 (96% of the U.S. population) funding has been cut drastically. “It seems extraordinary that a public service with such reach should be, in effect, punished despite its success.” Libraries are becoming more important, not less, to our communities and our democracy.

About 90% of all existing data is less than two years old.  Much of the information could be moderated for the public good, and libraries are able to do that. However, tech companies have put themselves into this role; "the risk of a small number of technically savvy, for-profit companies determining the bulk of what we read and how we read it is enormous."

Libraries are at risk because politicians are moving away from the public good, "favoring private enterprise and making conditions ripe for a Google-Apple-Amazon-Facebook oligopoly on information."
"It’s not too much of a stretch to say that the fate of well-informed, open, free republics could hinge on the future of libraries.”

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