Alan Moore loves libraries

Alan Moore, one of the high priests of happy mutants, gives a ringing endorsement to the public library system in this brief clip from last Saturday "Save our Libraries" international event. Moore spoke at the St. James Library in Northhampton.

Save our Libraries: Alan Moore (Thanks, MindySan33, via Submitterator!)


  1. Yes! And we also need to bring back Saloons and posts to tie up our horses. It’s 2011!!! Move on. I know most people here love libraries but I can’t help but feel these are cries similar to the record industry and the newspaper industry. The radio industry is going to change similarly (ie, die as it is currently known) because of the internet. Phone companies are going to have to change (ie, die as currently known) because of IP phones. TV and cable are getting replaced by hulu and netflix etc. And libraries fit that same list. Nearly every piece of info you want is free and available on your phone. I’ve read whole books on my phone in 2004. I don’t need a library. Several universities are getting rid of their’s. It’s time to embrace the future not hold on to out dated methods of information dispersal from the past.

    1. You seem to perceive a library as ‘a place where content is stored inefficiently upon dead wood matter’.

      That is somewhat like thinking a university is ‘a place where people who know things say them’.

      If your understanding of the sociological implications of a library is thus framed then you personally probably don’t need one, nor would ever make full use of one. You won’t sway the outrage of those of us who will.

      1. There was a pretty good discussion of the case of universities here:

        and on the preceding posts. The rough idea is that the purpose of the university evolved through time and survived several tech revolutions that should have killed them. The same seems to be true of libraries. If a library was just a communal store of books, it would have been killed a long time ago by cheap paperbacks. The fact that they weren’t means that there is something else that they provide.

    2. The internet simply does not replicate what a library provides in the way it has (to some extent) for other forms of media. There is no website where you can access a large selection of published works, both old and new, for free. Until that happens (and it won’t for anything recent, heard of copyright?) shutting down libraries because physical books are “old fashioned” is an assault on knowledge and freedom of information.

      Libraries are also immeasurably valuable public spaces. The internet, as great a resource as it is, is not a physical place where one can go. It also isn’t local. A library represents values of democratic knowledge, imagination, and free enquiry that should be at the heart of every community.

    3. You may be able to freely access information on your phone, but many people do not have/want smartphones, or cannot afford them. Information found on the internet can be of dubious quality, and much of it at a cost, like research journals, many of which public libraries subscribe to, so you can access them there for free.
      Public libraries are more than just a place of information however, they are vital lifelines for the less well off in society. A little old lady who comes in week upon week for her family sagas, or Mills and Boons. The children with several siblings who come in to study because they can’t get any peace at home. Someone who is searching for a job, very well, may be able to visit the library and use the free computer access to look up jobs in their local area, but they can also borrow a well written, knowledgeable, UP TO DATE book which gives them advice on writing the application, or updating their CV, or tests them on likely questions for interviews. You liken libraries to television services, which is wholly unreasonable. Television has to compete to survive because it is a BUSINESS. It has to make money. Libraries are a SERVICE. They exist purely to help the public, not to make money, or be sexy vibrant places for plebian types whose only pleasure comes from gazing at a screen looking at pictures of the next screen that will come along to replace that screen.

    4. I have to say, greggman, that you have a limited world view. You’re assuming that people can not only use, but afford to use, technology versus the library which is free. My grandmother, who just turned 92 cannot afford to maintain an internet connection nor a cellphone. However she CAN afford the free library and it’s one of her main outlets for entertainment and interaction with people. When I lived in NYC (just left a few months ago) the local public library in Queens was always jam packed with a wide range of ages and ethnicities. What I’d recommend, to put down your smartphone / turn off the computer and actually get out to see how the real world actually is.

    5. I really hope you’re just trolling.

      What legit university is closing it’s library?

      In the US libraries are embracing technology, go into a strange town, it’s where you go to get onto a computer for free. Not everyone grew up with mommy or daddy buying them a nice cell phone.

      “Nearly every piece of info you want is free and available on your phone.”
      No. Yeah, a lot of great stuff is free, but most science journals have content I want and isn’t free.

      Also guessing you don’t have kids.

      The library is the home turf of many a happy mutant.

    6. Yay, it’s mine! Yay Alan Moore! Yay libraries! Yay Cory! Just… YAY!

      And yeah, Greggman, I agree with Powerphail about it being a false equivalence. You seem to be suffering from a bit of myopia, there. Libraries — for people who can’t afford a phone, or an e-reader, or whatever magically digital way you might read books — still provide an important service. Go read that entry up there about that kid from Malawi who learned how to build a generator from reading a science book in a library. They also provide a great public meeting space. It’s nice to go somewhere and sit around and read or talk and not have to buy something.

      And I’d like to know what REPUTABLE university is getting rid of it’s library? Citation, please. Oxford, Yale, Princeton, Emory, UCLA? Sure, a uni might add other kinds of services (e-reserves, digitized microforms, digitized copies of their archives, etc), but frankly until ALL books and archives have been digitized (which, not all of it CAN be digitized), that’s just not going to fly. Research universities need libraries and archives.

      And WHAT is with that skeleton? Does he just carry it around to be more scary? God, he’s so awesome!

      1. > And WHAT is with that skeleton?

        I think you’ll find that that is for his next trick.

        Unfortunately, his current enemies also lack hearts.

        Hmmm. Actually that would be a fairly good idea for a comic. “Library Magician battles the Legion of the ConDemned”

    7. Nearly every piece of info you want is free and available on your phone.

      Would somebody please tell me where? Every time I want to know more about something than an encyclopedia article will tell me, I’m constantly having to check physical collections for old books or spending money for new articles.

    8. I don’t need a library. Several universities are getting rid of their’s. It’s time to embrace the future not hold on to out dated methods of information dispersal from the past.

      Judging by your writing skills, I believe we need to hang onto libraries just a wee bit longer.

    9. I never thought the day would come that I would have to defend libraries. Your view on libraries is so dim as to barely warrant a reply, but I can’t take the chance that anyone might mistake your colossal narrow-mindedness for a well reasoned position, so here’s my story on why libraries are important.

      When I was a student, I couldn’t afford to buy many books, and I certainly couldn’t afford a smart phone, a data plan, and $9.99 per book (still can’t). By way of interlibrary loan, my library acquired all four Absolute editions of Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Each volume was about $90 EACH to purchase, more than 650 pages, and printed on high quality, glossy paper that was 16 x 9. To put it simply, this graphic novel could NOT be reproduced on the screen of a smart phone or even an iPad without detracting from its illustrations. Each volume weighed over 7 lbs and had to be shipped from libraries across the country, but my library provided them to me FOR FREE simply because I carried a library card and requested them.

      Pray tell what corporation currently provides this or a similar service for free, hmm? All that free content you’re talking about wasn’t put on the web by corporate phone makers or internet service providers. Instead, it was put on the web by people like Jimmy Wales–who embody the spirit of the public library.

  2. Greggman… what a narrow minded bigoted statement…
    There is a reason that Libraries have existed for many centuries – they are more then just a place to get books to read (and great for you to be able to afford to ‘read whole books on my (your) phone in 2004’ but not everyone can afford or use such technology). Libraries offer cheap internet, a place to meet and discuss issues, store history and even help people understand the world around them.
    Our City libraries will soon have e-book reader to loan out – and already offer free DVD, CD and other technology for those less fortunate (or more frugal).
    I understand that Libraries will change – go more online and have different ways of loaning and storing books and media however to lose that tangible part would be like burning all the artwork in the Louvre because we have new art now…
    Thank you Cory for bringing us this…

    1. I concur. Some people forget that we don’t all have Kindle, the internet and an IPhone. For instance, whenever I need to go anywhere, I simply use my teleporter. No travel hassle and it takes two seconds to beam myself across the world. Why don’t people let go of travelling by bus, train, car and plane. It’s so early 21st century and there’s no need for it with a Star Trek style teleporter.

  3. Not everyone has access to the internet or computers, let alone smartphones. There is such a thing as the digital divide, and I think people should not be denied access to books just because they lack gadgets.
    Plus, have we forgotten the social aspect of libraries? Browsing through shelves with other people, sitting down and reading together with everyone else. I find it very empowering, and it is also a social activity that sitting in front of a computer can hardly compare with.

  4. ‘I’ve read whole books on my phone in 2004.’

    All I can say is they couldn’t have been very long books.

    I can barely stand reading emails on one of those irritating little screens in 2011 never mind an entire novel.

    Traditional books and their digital brethren both have their strengths and weaknesses, and both have their place in the grand information scheme. Neither is superior in my opinion and people should have the freedom to choose the format they prefer.

    You want to read ‘War and Peace’ on your phone – go ahead, I’ll stick with my hardback. :)

  5. I’m lucky enough to have a laptop, broadband at home and in my workplace, and a decent collection of books relating to my work and areas. And yet I still use my local library at least twice a week. It gives me a way to get away from the pressures of family life, job and commercial premises for a few hours, and do some some actual work, self-education or just plain thinking in a (reasonably) quiet indoor space. More conventionally, the novel I’m reading, the books I’m reading my kids, the audiobook my wife is listening to, all come from the library.

    Any afternoon or early evening I see dozens of school kids in there, studying, doing homework and chatting (mainly chatting) in a safe neutral environment, some presumably just waiting for their parents to get home from work. I see people every day printing out CVs, checking e-mail, and learning languages. Where would all these people to go? The internet?

    I, and many others, would be lost without my local library

  6. That’s an extraordinarily consistent response to what has to be a troll!

    The problem is that it’s greggman’s perception of what a library is that has become the prevailing view – and once that happens with anything, it’s almost impossibole to shift regardless of how wrong-headed it actually is. It doesn’t even seem to matter how coherent and reasoned the rebuttals actually are either (cf. the “Ground Zero Mosque” or any number of other examples.)

    I went to three events on Saturday, all well-attended and likely to create some vital political engagement amongst people who hadn’t previously considered it. If there’s one good thing that’s going to come out of the fiasco that is our (the UKs) current government spending plans, it’s that a whole generation may finally wake up to the idea that democracy is about what they do, not what whey are told is best for them.

  7. @greggman:

    ‘Several universities are getting rid of their’s.’

    And in one badly punctuated sentence you demonstrate exactly why we need to keep our libraries open. Thank you so much!

  8. Libraries on college campuses are always full. Libraries are awesome, a public AND quiet place?!?

    Alan Moore is the man.

  9. Phoenix Arizona gets a bad rap about a lot of things. But in our Libraries we have whats called a Culture Pass. The passes are for cultural activities such as museums, science center and so forth. You take the pass from a wall display and take it the check out counter. You essentially “check out” 2-4 visits. You receive a printout with an expiration date of one week. I use it often saving as much as $30.00. The pass expires in a week and goes back on the display rack.

    This is by far one of the best perks I have seen next to public library computer use programs.

    Support Your Local Library!

  10. Don’t think of a library as a place for books. Think of it as a place for learning.
    They don’t need to be phased out, they need to be upgraded to conform to the times.

    The Age of Information shouldn’t kill the library. It should enhance it.
    It’s time to invest in upgrading the library system, not destroy it.

    Think libraries 2.0

    1. You had me until the last sentence. I see nothing Web 2.0 except people pointing out cute viral videos to each other.

      1. Library 2.0 different then Web 2.0, Library 2.0 is the idea that Libraries should embrace the ideas of community that have come from Web 2.0. The example that I work with is using Folksonomies to help classify books, by allowing users to tag the books that the read. So when searching for a book you might find what you are looking for faster.

  11. The idea that we should rely on the internet to replace a communal physical knowledge store tells me that not enough sci-fi has been read.

    Please people, I think we covered this already.

    Do I really have to dress like a postman and ride through a apocalyptic wasteland just to get my point across?

    The internet is impermanent and malleable. I do not have a backup of it.

  12. greggman,

    Whilst I love to embrace the technology that the 21st Century brings to us to disseminate information. I still like to hold a physical book in my hands and thumb through the pages.

    Libraries still have a place in modern society. What happens when your smartphone runs out of power and you have no means to charge it up? I know what I’ll be doing, I’ll be reaching into my bag for a physical book which needs no power to be read.

  13. Also, has everyone seen the Alan Moore song by MJ Hibbett from a couple of years ago? I can’t remember if it was posted here or not?

    “Alan Moore, Alan Moore/ standing in the corner of your store…”

  14. You lost me at “Alan Moore loves” …anything. Doesn’t he know some of those libraries have DVDs of the Watchmen movie?

    I mean, I’m kidding, but then pretty much everything I’ve ever read about him goes more or less like this:

    ALAN MOORE: Behold my masterpiece, _________.
    PASSERBY: Wow, that’s amazing. Great work.
    ALAN MOORE: Well, it was, until you defiled it by turning your unworthy eyes upon it. Now it’s worthless.
    PASSERBY: Wha?
    ALAN MOORE: Also I’m pretty sure you didn’t get the subtleties. BECAUSE THEY’RE TOO SUBTLE FOR THE LIKES OF YOUUUUUUUUU!

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