Toward the end of this TechCrunch article about how Random House just tripled the price of ebooks for libraries, there was a link to this well-written, insightful blog post on MetaFilter about why libraries are not anachronistic – about why, in fact, they are more essential than ever.
In the post, the author urges the reader to “imagine this: you’re 53 years old, you’ve been in prison from 20 to 26, you didn’t finish high school, and you have a grandson who you’re now supporting because your daughter is in jail. You’re lucky, you have a job at the local Wendy’s. You have to fill out a renewal form for government assistance which has just been moved online as a cost saving measure (this isn’t hypothetical, more and more municipalities are doing this now). You have a very limited idea of how to use a computer, you don’t have Internet access, and your survival (and the survival of your grandson) is contingent upon this form being filled out correctly.”
Then the author goes through every step of the scenario, and concludes, rightly, “If you have any concept of a free and equal society, then libraries are still an integral part of that.”