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Forbes Got Torn Apart by Library Twitter for Saying Amazon Should Replace Public Libraries

Alexa, find me the weekend's worst take.

beauty and the beast library twitter forbes amazon

I don’t know how we’re still having this conversation but somehow, even now, in this, the year 2018, we’re still having to defend libraries. Even if a person doesn’t get why libraries are important, or even if they are weirdly, staunchly anti-library, you would think that by now they would have learned not to share that opinion online. Because Library Twitter is one of the smartest, most articulate, and straight-up vicious communities in the entire internet and they do not hold back.

Remember last year, when a NY Observer columnist tweeted out his terrible opinion that public libraries should be closed because “no one goes to libraries anymore”? And how within like a day he had to apologize to the 110,000 library users that had tweeted at him to let him know how wrong he was?

Yet that wasn’t enough to stop Forbes from publishing an article by contributor Panos Mourdoukoutas, advocating for libraries to be replaced by Amazon stores. Seriously.

As Mourdoukoutas sees it, libraries are unnecessary because places like Starbucks have replaced them as a space where people can go and use the internet and hang out for free. He’s conveniently ignoring a lot here. Like the fact that libraries have computers and wifi for people to use, while Starbucks and similar spaces require you to bring your own laptop, and there is the matter of making purchases at the coffeeshop.

Or the fact that libraries are open spaces for many who are not comfortable (or even allowed) in a place like Starbucks, like the elderly or the homeless. The thoughtlessness of suggesting Starbucks are great alternative to libraries just a few months after Starbucks made headlines for having customers arrested for the crime of existing while black is staggering.

It’s bad enough to suggest that a source of free books and other forms of media could and should be replaced by a private business that sells all of those things, but Mourdoukoutas is clearly ignorant of all the other services a library offers beyond books, DVDs, and free wifi. Luckily, Twitter is here to inform him of the many benefits he overlooked.

After that asshat tweet from Andre Walker last year, a library student going by the accurate handle of The Angriest Librarian (aka Alex Halpern) went viral with a scathing takedown thread. He, too, seems bewildered that we’re still having this conversation.

Mourdoukoutas tried to “clarify” his argument on Twitter, pointing out the thing everybody already knows: that libraries aren’t really “free,” as they’re paid for with tax dollars.

It would be great if major publications like Forbes weren’t giving a platform to the opinion that local public libraries be replaced with for-profit businesses with a history of invading our privacy and mistreating their employees. But as long as they are, at least Library Twitter will be there to shut that sort of ignorance down.

(image: Disney)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.