Libraries Are Essential


Libraries are not “Netflix for books,” Kelly Jensen argues over at BookRiot, but serve as centers of their communities. Corporations like Netflix are driven by profits, while libraries, at least in North America, are free for their users. The real danger is in training people to think of libraries not as essential public services, but as services users pay for:

The biggest issue with equating the library with a Netflix for books is that it sends a false message that libraries are worth little more than $8 or $12 or $20 a month. That the services offered in libraries are little more than options to which people can subscribe, rather than actual services anyone can utilize at any time.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →