Fox News advocates shutting down public libraries

When I give talks to library groups, I always finish by reminding librarians that they're powerful advocates for fair use and privacy, because "you look like a total jerk when you criticize librarians."

Case in point: this Fox Chicago piece proposing that Illinois shut down its library system:

But keeping libraries running costs big money. In Chicago, the city pumps $120 million a year into them. In fact, a full 2.5 percent of our yearly property taxes go to fund them.

That's money that could go elsewhere - like for schools, the CTA, police or pensions

One of the nation's biggest and busiest libraries is the $144-million Harold Washington Library in the Loop. It boasts a staggering 5,000 visitors a day!.

I also always open my library talks with a joke: "You know, with library budgets on the chopping block and Wall Street thriving, there's only one answer: securitize bonds based on library fines!"

Once again, Fox comes through:

We know we spend a lot on them. But libraries do bring in some revenue: more than $2 million in fines is collected annually by Chicago public libraries.
Are Libraries Necessary, or a Waste of Tax Money? (Thanks, Scott!)

(Image: St. Thomas Public Library, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from bluefootedbooby's photostream)


  1. Stay classy, Fox.

    Libraries are the backbone of any civilized nation.
    We may want to re-evaluate what role libraries play, but they’re essential.
    Free and open access to knowledge is the lifeblood of our culture.

  2. Fox News can suck it! I can think of 100 things that any state or city government could cut funding too before they take a dime away from their library systems!!

  3. Why are libraries useful? All the books that disagree with Fox News are heretical, and all the books that agree with them are redundant.

  4. Who needs libraries when one can become a journalist for Fox with a sub-par command of the English language…

  5. Libraries, at least here in Dallas (I’ve been to about 10 of them, in various neighborhoods), serve primarily as public indoor spaces* and internet access for the poor, old and/or lonely. You could probably dump a good portion of the fiction sections here in Dallas and double the sq footage of the internet/digital reference section and nobody would complain. Set up an espresso bar in one corner and they’d turn a nice profit!

    *All the local branch libraries in Dallas have rooms you can reserve that seat 30-60 people, they are used, among other things, as meeting halls for neighborhood associations recognized by the cities. As cities continue to grow, local branch libraries increasingly become “town halls” for local neighborhoods.

    1. Expresso will serve us well! As long as you sip your beverage, how about planning for the profits to go to renovating school libraries in inner city schools which have no space,nor the resources to prepare children to read widely. Most school libraries haven’t updated their collections since 1990. Just my extra change from the $2.00 shot of caffeine.

  6. It always amazes me when people given a shot at being onstage use it to embarrass themselves — seemingly without realizing how absurd they sound, even after the words are out — as well as the people who gave them the shot.

    Yeats was one of them, but I’ll give him this: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

  7. Guys your having a knee jerk reaction simply because it said Fox News, their right and its painful for anyone here to admit it.

    Public libraries are falling more and more into disuse, even on the busiest days in the town I live if you stop by the huge public library you will see…at max..maybe 20 people milling around and most of them are using the computers for the internet.

    Public libraries really need a rework if we expect to keep them, as it stands they really are just sucking up funds and space right now.

    Also how are libraries the life blood new? We have the internet now for free and open access information, and everyone seems to get all huffy when printed sources of information want to charge for that information now.

    Also people don’t seem to enjoy traveling anymore to dig through piles of books, I know it sucks but it seems the internet is killing the love of the library.

    1. in the town I live if you stop by the huge public library you will see…at max..maybe 20 people milling around and most of them are using the computers for the internet.

      We have a horrible, crappy, little library in my town, and it’s quite busy. With people reading.

    2. Libraries return on investment is roughly $4 for every $1 invested.

      Find me a private investment with that kind of return and please PLEASE tell me about it so I may retire to an island made of delicious cakes and gold when I am 40.

      You’re making the same mistake the Fox News crew did with your observation. If I walk into a store and see that it’s empty at a given time of day I might extrapolate that the store is failing.

      But if I look at that store’s reciepts for the day, or income for the month, there could be a very different story.

      That’s why libraries keep circulation stats and take attendance at programs, and track usage rates on computers. All of which are up, across the board, HUGE, as the economy tanked.

      Libraries are centers of public knowledge. They serve the public with books, music, movies, programming, computers, communal space and do all of it for about what most people lose in coins doing laundry every year.

      Christopher Hitchens once quipped that his favorite word in the English language is “library”. Libraries grow fierce minds, no wonder dullards like the automatons at Fox hate them so.

    3. We have the internet now for free and open access information…

      Really, all of us “we?” Did “we” magically get with the program and declare Internet access a universal right throughout this country? Can “we” all afford a computer and the $50/month connection fee?

      Just because your your parents pay for it doesn’t mean that it’s free, basement-dweller.

    4. Guys your having a knee jerk reaction simply because it said Fox News, their right and its painful for anyone here to admit it.

      Wow, that has to be the fastest FAIL I’ve ever seen on BB. Try this, kchill:

      Guys you’re having a knee-jerk reaction … they’re right.

      Of course, you might have known the proper spelling of those words if you’d spent any time in a library.

      1. thanks for clarifying this, as a non-english speaker I thought my skills were still in need of improvement…:D

      2. I was going to correct him, and make your points, but you beat me to it. If this were FB, I’d ‘like’ your comment, or if this was reddit I would give it an upvote. Instead, here’s a Thank You.

    5. I live in West Central Florida, in a rural suburb of Tampa, and I have never been to a library in all of the sprawl of Hillsborough County that wasn’t reasonably busy with people checking out books.

      1MacGeek: Show me a source or begone.

      Anyhow, it’s an interesting coincidence that Fox News advocates shutting down public libraries: I’m a public library advocate who advocates shutting down Fox News.

      Public libraries are a publicly-funded source of good information. Fox News is an investor-funded source of misinformation and outright lies.

    6. Thank you, Fox News, for bringing attention to today’s public libraries. In the library today, you can find jobs via high-speed Internet, learn how to use computers to access medical or government services, have meetings with your local community, or catch up on the latest books, movies, and entertainment that expose you to the world of possibilities. The public library is truly one of the cornerstones of American Democracy where you can exercise your freedom to access information. Visit your local library soon to see how your tax money is hard at work, not only for yourself, but for the whole community.

    7. I think people are “having a knee-jerk reaction” because Fox News is alleging that libraries waste money, when in fact they remain one of the only free sources of knowledge available.

      You’re = You are
      They’re* = They are

    8. Funny thing is, I actually do research on library use. I am doing it right now and taking a lunch break.

      I assume you don’t know that there are plenty of library research organizations that can provide empirical evidence proving you are wrong and uninformed.

      But as a librarian I also know that empirical evidence means nothing to many people, unless it proves they are correct.

      Libraries do not receive funding because they exist. They receive funding because numbers and statistics can show you that library use (visits, program, and circulation) has nearly doubled over the last decade. Librarians have to collect data and fight for each dime that helps to build a well-rounded and utilized collection. Libraries provide computers for research and for leisure because not all people can afford computers or access to the Internet to complete job applications, or to simply look at pictures of their grandchildren on Facebook. Some spouses and children of military stationed in the Middle East use Skype to talk to their loved ones in a war zone. A librarian will also help anyone learn how to use the technology, whether you are a child or a senior citizen.

      If you would like to challenge your uninformed notions I suggest you do research, and you can start at if you like. Or just pretend that information opposing your point of view does not exist; read or watch only what you agree with. We are proud to deliver both sides of any debate at the library. Even if we disagree with one side or the other, we still acknowledge that both sides exists, and will help you find and use any information you would like.

  8. You’re lucky, I always get depressed when I walk into the library in my town, and this is in California.

    1. and this is in California

      California’s education system is ranked 47th out of 50 states in the US. The US is ranked 33rd on reading, 27th in math and 22nd in science. Californians are almost at the bottom of the barrel in a country with lower reading literacy than Turkey and Brazil.

  9. And while you are there, please shut down, universities, schools, pensions…
    Never mind billions lost in meaningless wars.

  10. I can’t believe anyone in the western world, even from the most hardcore-right-wing, can take such a stance… Farenheit 451, remember ?

    1. Fahrenheit 451 wasn’t about a totalitarian regime ridding the world of books to keep control. It was about a society that rejected books and critical thinking in favor of television and other constant electronic distractions.* They elected a government that kept the “awful” books away from them, and the government did a pretty good job.

      *Remember the scene when Montag tries to force his wife’s friend to even look at a book and she runs shrieking over to the TV to turn it on?

      1. Perhaps I ought to write & record a song which sets out the differences between the book and the movie.

      2. I know that’s what Ray Bradbury says but I’m not entirely convinced he knows what “451” is really about.

  11. “Guys your having a knee jerk reaction simply because it said Fox News, their right and its painful for anyone here to admit it.”

    Warning: spelling Nazi ahead

    First of all, it’s “you’re” and “they’re”, and you might know that if you visited your local library. ;-)

    As far as anecdotes are concerned, if you live in a middle/upper-middle-class area, you probably won’t see many people at the library. However, if you live in a purely mixed-class town like our city, you will see a very large contingent of patrons. We have one main library in our city, and it is packed every day, even in the summer. They have a large selection of music, DVDs, Internet, and, of course, books. Our library is also near the schools, so location is always an important factor.

    If you’d do a little more research, you’d see that libraries are changing with the times and are catering to the needs and desires of their patrons.

    The problem most people have with this type of crap commentary is the fact that certain people want to simply get rid of any government-provided service that competes with for-profit corporations, and these corporations just cannot compete with libraries on price.

    Adjust things, make them better, no problem from me. But, to simply say that libraries are obsolete is patently idiotic, and one should look at the underlying motivations of those espousing such an idea.

  12. Perhaps the US could “borrow a page” from Finland, and make access to broadband a legal right:

    Perhaps Fox news with its well known favoring of the individual, would advocate for such to be indeed even more – a fundamental human right – going forward.
    Perhaps with easily configurable and updatable advertising filters.
    Oh Fox I’m sure would not want that, the greedy bastards.
    Making money from information bottlenecks is what they do: just like others try to control the straits of commerce, by erecting barriers, rather than improving the navigation for all.

  13. Libraries cost money which could otherwise go to Fox as monopoly profits on their particular copyrighted materials, like their News: oh, wait, they don’t really “create”that content…oh, this is Fox, maybe they do…

  14. $120 million a year? Really? Including buildings, salaries and materials?

    I always thought that libraries would probably work out as quite a good deal considering what they (theoretically at least)provide. Just out of interest, I’d like to see what the breakdown of expenditure from Illinois’ property tax is. I flibraries are consuming 2.5% to provide their services, I’d like to see what that stacks up against. I don’t really know what that tax normally pays for, but does it include things like transport, police and schools?

    In short, to decide whether or not 2.5% is good value for the various services offered (which may very well need rethinking to stay relevant and fulfill their promise) it really depends what the other 97.5% is doing. For instance: how does that 2.5% stack up against the cost of management consultants for Illinois? Which offers greater value for money?

  15. The Amsterdam Public Library is always full, and it’s a thing of beauty:

    There are two cafes. one with a terrace overlooking the water. It’s even got a radio studio.

    And I’m sorry I missed my chance to visit the Cathedral of Learning when I ws in Pittsburgh many years ago.

    Another amazing library:

    University library of G(h)ent:

    1. Sorry, but the Cathedral of Learning is NOT a library. It is a ginormous building full of lecture halls and study rooms, but Pitt’s main library is a butt-fugly ’70s cubist monstrosity. On the plus, the original Carnegie Library (and Museums of Natural History and Art) are directly across Schenley Plaza. The rehabbed dino exhibit has a wall of windows that interface with the library’s stacks.

      As for the anti-library trolls on this thread, recall that Ben Franklin was the primary instigator of public libraries in this country. You know, the same Franklin who said, at least apocryphally, “He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security” (or some variant thereof). For Founding Father worshippers you right-wingers are an awfully ignorant lot, aren’t you?

      1. Ben Franklin may have had a greater role in founding our country than Washington ever did but he’s never been very popular with conservatives. Aside from his obvious affection for things like “science” and “literacy,” the man orchestrated our revolutionary victory by forging an alliance with France. Is THAT something that Fox News viewers really want to remember?

        1. Franklin orchestrated an alliance with Louis XVI. No problem there….now if he’d cut a deal with Robespierre it would have been another thing entirely!!!

          1. Non non non, mon ami, au contraire…Louis Sez, he orchestrate with Franklin!
            Hoh hoh hoh.

          2. And Robespierre, he did not orchestrate, with anybody…he only conducted…right to Madame Guillotine’s embraces!
            Hoh hoh hoh.

      2. To bend ever so slightly off topic, one of the most notable sights in the Cathedral of Learning is, if memory serves, the point at which Bill Mazeroski’s 1960 World Series-winning home run sailed over the fence of what was then Forbes Field. So no, not the sort of thing our friends at FOX want to close down.

        OR IS IT?

  16. Public libraries as enclaves of socialism is actually a not-uncommon objectivist/libertarian talking point, so it’s not surprising to see Fox News adopt is as the party swings more and more in that direction.

    1. At least around here, the Libertarian Party also uses the public library as a meeting place. (Apparently they are completely oblivious to the irony.)

      And libraries are just as full of crap by Limbaugh and Coulter and Hannity and Palin as they are anything else.

      1. (Apparently they are completely oblivious to the irony.)

        A necessary requirement for membership.

      2. Speaking of Libertarians and irony (but not libraries, sorry), I once had a landlord who was very active in the local L.P. However, he was not above taking rent subsidies from the State.

  17. I don’t think anyone wants to shut down public libraries. Instead, I think the message is that can’t continue to operate as a public service funded by taxes. I am in favor of user fees to cover expenses, and allow them to operate as non-profit institutions.

  18. Wow.

    I guess we don’t have to wonder about that anymore. The usual saw in this situation is “if a Repubican said it there would be an outcry…”

    Well, we now know this to be true. Funny, I missed the BoingBoing post about Elena Kagan not objecting to a law *banning books*. Reaction from the political Left at her statement? You can hear the crickets chirping in Tulsa from New York City.

    Before you jump all over me, this is irrefutable. We have the audio of Kagan actually defending a law banning books in open session of the Supreme Court. It is inarguable that she uttered the words. She said them of her own free will.

    In fact, you have the political Left actually defending Kagan *and* the idea she expressed!

    Now comes what one presumes is a Far-right Republican not suggesting we ban books, but that we stop paying for the libraries. Just look at the outcry at the mere thought! I don’t know about you, but no matter one’s political persuasion it should be automatic that anyone who would give utterance to indifference to banning books should be disqualified immediately and removed as far from the Supreme Court as humanly possible. Dog catcher comes to mind.

    For the life of me I cannot understand anyone or any organization rising to defend someone who expresses any idea remotely close to banning books. I am so shocked and horrified by the very idea that words simply fail. But try as I might to find a Left-of-Center anything to share in my shock and revulsion, I fail.

    Certainly a published author could at least work up a good “oh, pshaw!” for anyone with such ambivalence to banning books.

    1. Words which Ms. Kagan uttered – if she did in fact utter such – considering the context in which those words were uttered – as an Advocate arguing a Case, before a Court, for a Client.
      Ms Kagan would have been remiss ( indeed disbarred) had she commenced to argue for the opposite side!

      Perhaps you confuse the Advocate’s personal opinions , with the opinions which an Advocate is duty-bound to utter whilst performing her duties.

      A consideration which I note does not apply at all to the opinions of Fox News.
      Tell me, if Fox were to begin to argue that all Citizens go armed to all public meetings, would they still be given their network license by the FCC? Because what they do is in “the public interest”?

      1. I think you are quite right in commending Kagan for stating, clearly and succinctly, that the government’s position in the “Citizens United” case was that said government had the authority to ban books.

        Laying that hand on the table in front of the Supreme Court no doubt helped them to formulate their (correct) decision.

        It would have been far worse for her to answer that question in the negative and then, at some later date, support the banning of a book under the auspices of “campaign finance reform”.

    2. 1MacGeek, I know you are a troll (I can read yer comment history) but could you try a little harder please?

      You won’t get far claiming it was wrong for Kagan to do her job. I mean, I don’t like Kagan, myself, and I can find plenty of real things to criticise her for… but c’mon. Do something more than regurgitate Faux “News”, will ya?

    3. I looked it up and it seems shes speaking in reference to this law: which has to do with campaign contributions, the whole video is not very clear at all. I can assure you that if she ever, for any reason suggests banning books in her capacity as a supreme court judge I would be very much against that. I think that suggesting that the “political Left” totally supports her and banning books %100 isn’t much of an argument unless you’ve done some kind of survey to see that demographic’s opinions(I think %10 of the target population is the minimum for it to be a valid survey, at least that’s I learned in the reliability of statistics unit in grade 12 Math). I’m going to take a wild guess and say you don’t have access to at least %10 of the “political Left”. The other thing is that, from the video that I saw, her opinion of books is not at all clear, in fact her argument seems to be saying that the FEC has never banned books. I would love a quote that clearly demonstrates that she supports a law banning books, (as far as I can see, this 441b that’s she referring to seems to have to do with campaign contributions rather than book banning)

      1. Miss Kagan is clearly not for banning books, and her comments support this. I’m unclear on which video you were watching but here are a couple of links for you:

        Google link to the PDF of the transcript in HTML format:

        Kagan section starts on page 35,and the relevant exchange regarding books starts on page 64.

        Here is a link to an mp3 recording:

        Kagan starts @ ~38m50s, and the relevant exchange regarding books begins ~1h10m35s

  19. But wait, didn’t Glenn Beck learn everything he knows from the public library? At the CPAC conference: “I went to the library — the books are free. . . . I educated myself. My education was free and I’m proud of that.”

    So libraries don’t cost anyone anything, and Fox likes them! If we didn’t have public libraries, we wouldn’t be able to educate ourselves or have access to the wonderful world of knowledge! Of course, then we wouldn’t have to pay for them, and we need all our money for the important stuff, but then again we wouldn’t have Glenn Beck, and anyway they’re free, so . . . .

    Ouch, now my head hurts.

  20. Anne Herbert wrote: “Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.”

  21. If the cities and states are going bankrupt, they have to cut costs somewhere. Cities don’t fight wars or fund foreign aid, so there are no politically easy targets to aim at.

    Do we take another look at that 54 year old administrator pulling down a $220K a year pension while he works at a new $170K city job, all paid for by the taxes of those making $60K?

    Don’ wanna go there? Then maybe we have to take a harder look at the library, and other services.

    If we had really followed Keynes’ prescription we wouldn’t be in this fix. That would be the part where old JM recommended we cut spending and build up a surplus in the good times, so that we have a cushion to stimulate the economy in the lean times.

    1. Notary Sojak has a really good point. I’m assuming most BB readers live on the west coast (lucky bastards), so you’re probably not familiar with the way politics work in Illinois. Our governor in the early 2000s, George Ryan, was hit with corruption charges after leaving office. His replacement, who ran on a campaign of ending “business as usual”, just started his corruption trial for crimes including trying to sell President Obama’s vacated Senate seat. Our state is in a budget crisis right now, so we have a choice. We can’t cut essential services. Nobody is going to cut cushy patronage positions or lucrative contracts – we’ve accepted that. Something has to give, and it isn’t going to be pretty. Libraries don’t have a lot of visible support and relatively few people will miss them when they’re gone. So, they’re an easy target.

      1. Libraries are a “target”?
        People need better metaphors.
        Or better politicians.
        Or better “news networks”.

        Probably all three.
        Why not get a book instead, and spend some quiet summer time, under a tree?
        The tree of learning…

      2. Um, don’t property taxes pay for the vast majority of library expenses? If so, how is cutting library spending going to help the Illinois government’s deficit?

  22. Some cities and counties have separate library taxing districts, with a dedicated source of funding that can’t be carved away.

    And these taxing districts are subject to periodic reapproval by the electorate. (To my understanding they are approved far, far more often than not).

    As a fiscal conservative who also uses my library a lot, I believe this solution is a total win.

  23. Dang! Without the liberry, how mah gonna rent me up some movies?

    But in all seriousness, Fox News should be made an example of by making them attend a spelling contest where they compete for their lives. “Oh! If only I’d utilised my library more I mightn’t be in this pickle!”

  24. Fox is really an insidious, highly successful propaganda operation. The last thing the right wing wants is informed, critically thinking voters. Anti-intellectualism is woven into their message on purpose, and just what do you think you’re going to do about it? As George Carlin said, “they own you!”

  25. Cory didn’t mention it in the article and I’m not sure many of you have noticed it but this article is NOT from the Fox News Channel, it’s from the local Chicago Fox station WFLD-TV Channel 32.

    I live in the Chicago area and I have to tell you that the local Fox news station has little or no connection to the national Fox News Channel. In fact, like all of Chicago’s local news shows, the Fox news show is a bit left of center in its news reporting and opinion.

    Was the article well thought out and reasonable? Not in my opinion, but the knee jerk reactions from Boing Boing regulars about it seem to stem almost entirely from it being on a FOX website.

    Would reactions have been the same if this opinion piece came from the Chicago Sun-Times? How about the Chicago Reader or the Chicago Defender?

    1. Well I for one would.
      It’s the policy advocated, the content of the opinion, and not the speaker’s hair cut (nor who pays their salaries) which I try to focus on.

      Although with such dazzlingly beautiful hair cuts on all those TV people, it is not easy for some, I know.

    2. “but the knee jerk reactions from Boing Boing regulars about it seem to stem almost entirely from it being on a FOX website.”

      I, and I expect most people, would be just as angry if it were suggested by any news network, or anyone at all. Libraries are precious, important things and to have them treated with the seeming disregard this article projects is absolutely offensive.

      I would not care to live in a world without libraries, and I’m very serious about that.

  26. I love libraries as much as the next person, but it’s hardly a zero sum game if there no libraries there would be NO books or even cheap books. Given the cost of the library buying used books from Amazon is cheaper. And besides… all these government welfare-state types are going to have to make choices…. it’s not quite books or pensions, but living in California where left-liberal fiscal policies have ruled the roost the last 20 years or so the choices are becoming stark.

    All that being said… there are a lot better cuts to make than libraries — at least out here in SoCal.

      1. “And the US has apparently chosen “guns”

        Last time I checked, the City of Chicago does not have an army, navy, or air force.

        If you are suggesting that the city reduce the budget of its police force (the only “guns” that are paid for by city taxpayers) in order to fully fund its libraries, that is a proposition which deserves to be placed before its voters. I can see myself voting for it.

  27. “Cory didn’t mention it in the article and I’m not sure many of you have noticed it but this article is NOT from the Fox News Channel, it’s from the local Chicago Fox station WFLD-TV Channel 32. …[T]he local Fox news station has little or no connection to the national Fox News Channel.”

    Well, the other thing that isn’t mentioned in the article is that essentially the same story, adapted for local institutions, ran at pretty much the same time on the Philadelphia Fox station, the Boston Fox station, and the New York Fox station. I haven’t found any non-Fox stations running such a story at the same time, on a quick Google News search.

    Odd, er, coincidence, don’t you think?

  28. Faux tipped their hand, they’re just too stupid to realize it; it’s their version of the book burnings in Nazi Germany in the dark days preceding WWII…

  29. @ Effsix:

    The thing is, lending movies is an important part of what public libraries can do. I think there’s a tendency for people to assume that libraries must be high-fiber, low-salt institutions, giving you only substantial, hearty, dusty fare like textbooks and reference sources.

    But the point of a public library is not to serve as a supplement or a replacement for an inadequate public school system–it’s to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate in the intellectual discourse of society. And I mean “intellectual” broadly–that includes being up to speed on facets of culture that were made primarily for entertainment. People who are exposed to new ideas that they can bounce off of each other from lots of different sources.

    I’m not even going to argue (for now) that people borrowing the Twilight series will go on to borrow more and more serious books, because many won’t. But the fact that so many people *can* access those books brings a broader audience together that can discuss them, the ideas in them, or how they fit into our culture. That’s important in and of itself.

  30. The idea of shutting libraries down sounds really ridiculous till you consider how the Internet has transformed the way we access information.

    I do not advocate shutting them down, but it’s true that libraries are no longer the primary ways for ordinary people to access knowledge.

    Just saying.

    1. As more and more written works are available in digital format, it becomes increasingly possible to provide everything a library has traditionally provided (and still on a tax supported basis) with less bricks and mortar, less sunk capital costs, and (yes) fewer employees.

      A dozen workstations take up a lot less space than the reference stacks they replace. A room full of fiction on MP3/CD takes up a tenth of the shelvage that the same titles do in hardcover.

      There is no more need to subsidize -analog- libraries than there is to subsidize analog music distribution.

      1. Reading a digital book will never be the same as reading a hardcover, and I can’t stand audio books so you could never sell me on that. The main problem would be that the library would have to buy all the books again. The other problem is that I imagine that there are large groups of the population that would not wish to read digital books, therefore the library could seriously lose readership and undermine their purpose, which is to have people read books.

      2. I don’t think digital media is “archival” enough, if you get my drift.
        A serious library holds materials that will be consulted as little as once every seventy-five years. There’s some Net URLs that don’t seem to last 75 minutes: and digital storage media is still in the ” I wonder how long it shall hold up?” stage of development, compared to acid-free paper, for the purposes of the long-term storage and use of information.

        Long story short: please don’t de-fund the Library of Congress (at least), quite yet.

    2. “The idea of shutting libraries down sounds really ridiculous till you consider how the Internet has transformed the way we access information.”

      Well, I use the internet to order books from the local library all the time. I wouldn’t be surprised that my local library system saw an increase of usage in the last decade or so because of the internet. There are more local branches now than ever before.

      But then again I live in Canada. I’m not familiar with US libraries and how they’re run, but every place in Canada I’ve spent time, the local libraries were well attended and very important to the community.

      Are libraries in the US that much different? Is it cultural (we’re not THAT different from our neighbours)or is it mostly economic and political?

  31. In years past, I was a cultural advisor to the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Korea at their consulate in LA. One day they asked me how book rental stores are regulated in the US. I told them about free libraries, and the fact that more than six billion books were loaned for free (at that time) every year. I mentioned that they might want to look into starting up a similar service.

  32. “Given the cost of the library buying used books from Amazon is cheaper. And besides…”

    This is actually true on average: while some library books circulate dozens of times or more, others don’t circulate at all. The only factoid I remember from my collection development course was a study that concluded that the average book circulated once. (Though I don’t remember what kind of library that referred to: public, academic, or both.)

    The cost of selecting, acquiring, cataloguing, and managing a book often exceeds the purchase price of the book, so on average, books would probably be cheaper if everyone just bought their own.

    However, a library is much more than a collection of books you can borrow. There is all the activity involved in selecting, organizing, cataloguing, and reference services, all of which help you to find not only books you didn’t know existed but also information you knew you wanted but didn’t know where to find. A library also preserves books that don’t have mass appeal but might be of great interest or even vital importance to you: they serve as a public record of our history and published heritage. Amazon is a great place to go for stuff that’s in print, but sometimes you need access to stuff that’s out of print, and the used book market can be pretty hit and miss. If your library doesn’t have the book you need, they have people who can find another library that does and get it on interlibrary loan from them.

    Libraries are also about a lot more than just books. Books are still a core part of the library’s services, but libraries are offering a variety of other services, including access to computers and Internet and electronic resources (many of which are not free) and a host of other services. A quick search of my public library’s Web site shows 940 library programs.

    There’s also the importance as libraries as centers of excellence and research: public libraries, especially the larger ones, are active participants in advancing the state of the art, such as the digitization of print collections and the development of online access to those collections (without signing away the rights of future generations to Google in the process).

    Lastly, libraries are a public space in an age where truly public spaces are becoming a rare and precious commodity.

  33. Um…I missed the whole part where, as the headline states, “Fox News advocates shutting down public libraries”.

    1. “That’s money that could go elsewhere – like for schools, the CTA, police or pensions” I think that’s implicit advocacy for the library to be shut down and the money to go elsewhere

  34. This story contains one huge error — the story is a product of Fox’s Chicago affiliate, not a proper production of Fox News.

    The proof is in the pudding. The byline:
    “By Anna Davlantes, FOX Chicago News”

    While I don’t agree with the story, and don’t like Fox News either, in this case you’re dealing with a local reporter rather than the national organization that everyone knows & hates/loves with a passion.

    The story itself is also horribly written and horribly researched. They “sent a hidden camera” and counted 300 visitors an hour. When in the day did they send it? Different libraries have different peak hours. How were they to know no one was using the bookshelves? Are there even bookshelves available for browsing (such as at the 42nd St. New York Public Library)?

    Also, the one-sentence throwaway about the fines is a joke. Libraries, as said elsewhere in the comments, are public indoor spaces, and many local libraries also offer programs for young children. They are a focal point of a community that is open to all with either free or very cheap admission.

    Also, there isn’t a single quote in this entire interview. Why not interview politicians, librarians, students, and parents about whether or not they value what their local library offers? Why not interview some others who believe that the libraries should be cut? As it stands, its just a hack reporter’s opinion piece of why Chicago should cut its libraries.

  35. The one good thing public libraries had going for them under the Bush administration was that openly attacking them was an implicit criticism of the first lady. Now that Laura’s gone Fox can finally say what they’ve always thought about book-learnin’.

  36. Plus, they are letting the poor people read copyrighted material for FREE! It’s un-American.

  37. The Commonwealth requires the education of the people as the safeguard of order and liberty.

  38. I have a feeling Fox News stations across the country are getting told by Fox News heads that they need to take down libraries, because our local Fox News channel here in Minneapolis/St. Paul just did a very similar piece mere days before this one. Coincidence?

  39. Interesting story, but can we get it without the “FOX NEWS WANTS TO SHUT DOWN LIBRARIES” next time? It just pollutes the discussion.

  40. Just yesterday I was working to get people to sign up to keep our local libraries open. It cost nothing, but if you donated to the cause you got a nifty magnet or poster.
    We would often start by asking the passersby if they had a minute to help keep the library open. It was sad how many of them said no.
    It’s been said (citation needed) that 5% of the public reads 95% of the books read in the US.
    The idea behind the library is as important as the contents of the building itself-a place where anyone can go to get up to date information and fiction for free. The manner of sharing the info may change, but the ability of the populace to educate and entertain itself is maintained. The whole internets vs. hard-copy books debate is irrelevant.

  41. What a terrible idea, libraries give your city +50% science and only cost one coin per turn in maintenance.

  42. “I have a feeling Fox News stations across the country are getting told by Fox News heads that they need to take down libraries, because our local Fox News channel here in Minneapolis/St. Paul just did a very similar piece mere days before this one. Coincidence?”

    Well, when you consider that the Fox channels in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York *also* all did a “should we fund public libraries?” piece at the same time as the one in Chicago, it looks less and less like a coincidence. I didn’t know about the Minneapolis-St. Paul case; that makes 5 “local” Fox stories so far. I haven’t yet found any other stations doing the same kind of story at the same time as the Fox ones did.

    (I would include links, but a previous comment of mine that had links to the Philly, Boston, and New York Fox stories seems to have been caught up in the moderation queue, probably on auto-suspicion of link-spam. Maybe a moderator can free it up.)

  43. Toshokan Sensou.

    Americans these days are far too complacent towards the anti-intellectual movement (with Fox at it’s head) chipping away at our freedom and our curiosity – making us all thought-criminals in the process.

  44. Los Angeles isn’t far behind. We just laid off 30% of library staff and dramatically cut hours despite public outcry. And this at a time when people are using libraries even more job hunting and LA public schools need them as they have cut their own libraries out of their budgets.

    1. Ouch, you made me click on that–but I stopped reading at “The business strategy that Blockbuster used to dominate the video business.” There’s an open-and-shut case for the superiority of the free market for you!

      1. Please, read the whole thing, it just keeps getting better and better.

        In an insane “what the goddamnan hell is wrong with you?” sort of way.

  45. For those who think that library use is waning… some stats here:

    * 300,000 Americans get job seeking help in libraries every day.

    * Small business owners and employees use libraries 2.8 million times a month to support their businesses.

    * US library visits top movie attendance and dwarf sporting event attendance.

    * US libraries lend 2.1 million DVDs a day, almost as many as Netflix.

    * There are more libraries with free meeting rooms than there are conference centers, convention centers and auditoriums combined

    Library use is up during the recession, while budgets are being cut. Libraries help people create and grow their businesses, get back on track for jobs, and stay connected with opportunity.

  46. “Cutting libraries in a recession is like cutting hospitals in a plague.” – Eleanor Crumblehulme

  47. I’m a Chicago taxpayer and a library user and I’d like my tax dollars to continue funding the public trust of knowledge that is the library system. Why would we bother putting this money into education if we’re going to remove the library and its repositories of knowledge. They’re fools.

  48. We must stem the tide of free information available so that the one absolutely right-minded truth prevails, with no discussion or independent thought involved. How can we re-write history if people have access to it, as recorded during previous eras when people did not have the forethought to apply the appropriate spin to support our current political goals, which we have always had? We must purge all information that does not fit in with our narrowly defined agenda, so that people think correctly and do not cause pesky problems by applying an antiquated notion called “logic”.

    Otherwise people might think that this Christian Nationâ„¢ was founded by deists who believed in a separation of church and state; that corporations are right and good and have our best interests at stake; and the world’s resources are theirs to plunder for their own profit, unfettered by stifling regulation. People might worry then about the world we are rapidly making into a shithole instead of preparing for a happy time floating on a cloud with a halo for eternity, safe in the knowledge that Jeezus saved them so they don’t have to worry about the consequences of their actions. Look, the only book-learnin’ you need is from the bible anyway, so if it’s not in there, it doesn’t matter, right?

    Ok, all sarcastic doublespeak aside, if you’re really worried about fiscal responsibility (and they’re not. It’s just the hatchet they have chosen) then TAX CHURCHES AND THE BUSINESSES RUN BY CHURCHES!!! This is but one solution of many that are completely off the drawing board because real political debate in this country is a farce.

  49. Basement dweller? Ripping into me for minor grammar mistakes and expressing my opinion? Comon people thats really low…

    Yes, Libraries are wonderful places but the world never had the internet before and now its affecting thier worth in the eyes of alot of people: the same people who approve funding for them. The library in my town constantly has to do fund raisers since they keep getting thier budget slashed.

    Don’t get insulting simply because someone has a viewpoint that clashes with your own.

    Fox news reported on something, it happens, they make news stories and asked a question “Should Libraries stay open?” and you know what you do than? You answer the question, and if you want your library to stay open you go to the people who fund them and say “I want it to stay open and here is why and the benifiets”.

    I don’t appreciate being insulted over this matter since I always vote for library funding and donate a fair amount of money to my local one to keep it open.

    How about practicing what you preach here and have an open mind?

    1. Don’t kid yourself. Questions as inane as this have an agenda behind them, as demonstrated by the article citing reasons for their closure and none for their staying open (not to mention such items appearing in several Faux affiliates in the same period, as noted above.) They are worded to elicit a specific response and sidestep any real debate. Case in point:

      Slavery: Was it so bad after all? Who couldn’t use one?

      Breathing: A dangerous dependency or time bomb waiting to go off?

      The Bill of Rights: Obsolete? Would anyone really notice if it were gone?

      Children: Life-threatening parasites or under-utilized labor force?

      Homosexuals: Shouldn’t they keep their gayness to themselves instead of forcing it on everyone else?

      Prayer in School: Why do liberals want to get between your kids and God?

      Abortion: Should murderers of babies be executed or just spend their lives in prison?

      Trial by a jury of your peers: Antiquated concept? Why succumb to peer pressure?

      Democrats: Are they whining, sniveling godless evil-doers or just misguided and naive?

      I could go on. Critical thinking is required no matter which side of an issue you are on, if you truly have an “open mind.”

  50. Sorry to those that really think libraries aren’t a good use of our tax money – you are wrong. Libraries have seen increased use over the past few years. The most recent report is from the American Library Association:

    ADDITIONALLY, from that article:
    The 2010 Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study also finds that:

    * 67 percent of libraries report they are the ONLY provider of free public access to computers and the Internet in their communities;
    * Public computer and Wi-Fi use was up last year for more than 70 percent of all libraries;
    * 89 percent of libraries provide formal or informal technology training, including classes in computer skills, software use and online job-seeking;
    * 82 percent of libraries provide Wi-Fi access;
    * A majority of libraries offer Internet services ranging from subscription databases (95 percent) to online homework resources (88 percent) to ebooks (66 percent); and
    * 66 percent of libraries provide assistance to patrons completing government forms.

    Libraries DON’T just give you books, they also are at the forefront of teaching the public how to use computers. They serve the disadvantaged. Libraries are doing a lot of work to help the unemployed. We need them more than ever!

  51. Seattle’s libraries are awesome. I don’t personally know anyone who doesn’t use them, and not just for the internet. Granted, it’s one of the most literate cities in America…

  52. Ben Franklin founded the US library system. Why does FOX News hate our founding fathers?

  53. Fox “news” and the GOP prefer their voters stupid, or at the very least, as minimally educated as possible. That way they’re easier to fool into voting against their – and others’ – rights, and against taxes that collectively pay for the services the public wants and needs – such as libraries. Hence, shutting down libraries would serve the extremely biased interests of Fox and the political party it serves.

  54. Maybe if they visit a library they might learn what a library is and why they separate our society from, oh say amoeba.

  55. What an incredibly misleading title! You should be ashamed of yourself. After watching the entire VIDEO clip – there was NO attack. Watch the actual video, not just read an article from a secondary website, spinning things towards their agenda. There were questions – but since when is questioning how money is spent an attack? The FOX correspondent pointed out the increase in visitors to libraries. The two experts each spoke their opinions – Fair and Balanced. It was just as FOX advertises – “We Report. You Decide.” Disagree? Watch it again and find where the FOX correspondent “attacks” libraries. Or is getting two sides to look at just too confusing? That’s why FOX’s ratings are killing all other news outlet’s ratings – they present all the sides of an article. They don’t just tell you what feels good. Here’s a link to the actual FOX article. Again, WATCH the video.

  56. According to WorldCat, over 1300 libraries own copies of Glenn Beck’s Common Sense, because we believe in balanced collections, intellectual freedom and accessibility.

    You’re welcome, Fox!

  57. Ah Libertarianism….. the spoiled brat body politic. 2.5% of taxes on Libraries….. that’s money I could be spending on body cream and bottled water! Responsibility to my country? No no no it’s all about me me me!

    Well it seems, thankfully, that enough people are still educated enough to know that a few uncontrolled casual observations and a couple numbers do not an analysis make.

    I mean, this isn’t a rock concert. It’s not about just attendance or turnover. In my local library I see people in there all the time, some look poor, maybe even homeless. The *ARE* reading books, mostly. Ya perhaps most of the people that come in the door are coming for the free internet. But that’s because it’s a 20 minute maximum, it’s more turnover, most of the person*hours in the building are still reading. If anything it’s an argument to get rid of the free internet (as obviously it’s a different clientele and the mandate doesn’t overlap as much as anticipated).

    History speaks for itself as to what public libraries do for society. It only takes a few of the proper users of the facility for it to be worthwhile. It’s about using books, not putting bums in chairs. Not everything can be measured in terms of how many people are shuffled in and out like cattle.

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