Why libraries matter, cont’d: the pop-culture treasure trove

From NPR’s “Monkey See” blog, a fantastic post by Linda Holmes on how the library is the best friend that pop-culture geeks may not have known they had:

There’s a big public library literally across the street from my bank and the supermarket where I most frequently pick up stuff like milk and paper towels. Across the street. As in: first I buy Diet Coke, then I dodge one SUV careening around the corner, and I’m there.

And yet, until this weekend, I’d never been in it and I had no library card.

I know.

I’ve talked a bunch of times about the economics of e-book purchasing and paper book purchasing, about my love of paperback romance novels, and about how unattached I am to book ownership and the growth of my personal library, and somehow, I never crossed the street.

After finally heading over to get signed up and then leaving on Saturday with the odd sense I tweeted about that they had let me walk out with six books and three DVDs for nothing and I felt like I’d committed a heist, I gave this some thought. Why, when there’s such bitter frustration over pricing of all the things people actually buy, is library borrowing often only faintly heard about in noisy, angry discussions you can so often hear about “How do I stop getting broken on the rack by publishers of various kinds?” What kinds of hesitations stop this from happening?

The rest is well worth a read. Holmes writes about selection, condition, availability, return deadlines, the DVD section, e-book and audiobook access, staff helpfulness, and more, and how she was more than pleasantly surprised on each and every concern. She concludes:

The point I’m trying to make is that as a pop-culture-adjacent person, you may think that public libraries are not particularly relevant to you. But I felt like since we’ve talked about movie pricing, e-book pricing, and a lot of other business models, it was only fair to bring to your attention my experience with this bizarre business model that’s so crazy it just might work.

Haven’t set foot in a library since you were a kid, and don’t think it’s for you? Think again. Seriously.

(Image via GeekTheLibrary.org. Click it!)

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