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Professor slammed for saying bookstores should replace libraries

By: - Content Strategist / @CCepedaINQ
/ 04:50 PM July 23, 2018

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Twitter users were inflamed when Panos Mourdoukoutas, a professor and chair of the Department of Economics at Long Island University Post in New York City, recently wrote an article suggesting Amazon bookstores should replace libraries. Mourdoukoutas, who writes about business and investment for Forbes, was slammed for his piece last July 21 after he suggested Amazon should open their bookstores in all local communities.

As per Mourdoukoutas’ article, he wrote that Amazon Books bookstores replacing local libraries can save taxpayers a lot of money. He, too, cited the prevalence of streaming services and the rise of digital technology, both of which, as per Mourdoukoutas, are well on their way in stamping out the need for library borrowing services.

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But it appears many didn’t share the sentiments of Mourdoukoutas. Many have since taken to social media recently to air out their grievances regarding his claims, starting with, well, an actual library.

The San Francisco Public Library tweeted last July 22 regarding the issue, saying, “Maybe @Forbes doesn’t like that you can download their magazine free with your #SF library card.”

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John Scalzi, American author and former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, also spoke out last July 22 on Twitter.

“A leading indicator for me that you’re probably a real *sshole is whether you think libraries should be shut down and/or replaced by corporate retail outlets.”

New York Times best-selling author and comic book writer Chuck Wendig on the other hand, shared his sentiments after working in an actual library in the past.

“I worked at a library. They are a community-facing center of PUBLIC GOOD, bridging the people with information and entertainment,” Wendig wrote. “Librarians are BOOK WIZARDS and reference libraries are INFOSORCERERS and we must protect libraries as a precious resource.”

Wendig also emphasized the fact that when libraries are demolished, the first people affected are those in the fringes.

“Also worth noting because when you diminish or destroy libraries the patrons you hurt first and most are those under-served populations,” added Wendig. “Anyone who is marginalized due to income, race, gender, sexuality, disability and so on.”

Peter Hartlaub, a pop culture critic at the San Francisco Chronicle, meanwhile, called out the elitist ignorance of Mourdoukoutas.

“The elitist ignorance here is staggering. Public libraries are refuge – from, among many other things, the spread of corporate monolith advocated in this piece. Please let the response be a tripling down of commitment to preserve free community spaces.”

Activist writer Sofia Quintero, too, iterated the purpose of libraries. More than just books, she wrote that libraries service the oppressed.

“Historically those with power overtly protected their position by keeping oppressed communities illiterate,” Quintero wrote last July 22. “This idea is a modern reincarnation. Libraries serve POC, the poor, etc. They are where people apply for citizenship, register to vote, access social programs.”

On her end, Charlotte Clymer of the Human Rights Campaign told Mourdoukoutas to “dial down” the capitalism.

“Hey, @PMourdoukoutas, I use my local library so much that my keychain checkout card is worn-out from overuse,” Clymer wrote. “Maybe take a step back and dial down the capitalism, huh?”

Despite the raging backlash left, right and center, however, Mourdoukoutas’ did not backtrack in his initial statements and instead doubled down on his stance in a Twitter clarification made last July 23.

“Let me clarify something,” Mourdoukoutas wrote. “Local libraries aren’t free. Home owners must pay a local library tax. My bill is $495/year.”

Some of those who reacted to his latest tweet said that they are aware that libraries aren’t free and that the library tax is one they are willing to pay to serve their community.

Author Nick Kolakowski noted in response, “Your taxes also pay for roads, infrastructure, assistance, salaries… society, in total. None of it is free. All [contribute] toward the common good you’d rather leave to corporations with vested interests.” NVG

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TAGS: Amazon Books, bookstores, Forbes, libraries, literacy, public libraries, reading
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