Socialist Propaganda to Benefit Librarians and the Libraries that Recruit Them

The free-market economy is flagging, but public libraries are booming. As banks and lending institutions are being rescued and resuscitated by the federal government, and effectively making us, the taxpayers, shareholders in numerous deteriorating financial institutions (not to mention the auto industry and the sure to follow airline industry), many people are left alarmed and see this as the start of a capitalist freefall into the vortex of socialism. To those people, I would recommend going to the library.

As is evidenced by all the chin wagging and name calling that erupted at the tail end of the 2008 election season, people are still sufficiently alarmed by the specter of socialism. Pundits and everyday Joes sounded all sorts of Cassandra cries that we were walking backwards into a socialist state. But I assure you, if you want to find triumphant socialism at work in nearly every community in this great nation, you would be well advised to visit your local library.

This is a place where public tax dollars are being used to buy massive amounts of reference and research material to be accessed and loaned out for free. Walk into any library and you will no doubt see a dozen or so people accessing the Internet (for free), accessing reference materials (for free), and borrowing (also, for free) all kinds of books and media (CDs, DVDs, etc) amounting to what some might interpret as an undermining of the capitalist system and unabashed intellectual theft on a massive scale. Even satirist Stephen Colbert took a pot shot at the unsavory lending practices of our public library system, and how they threaten to erode the very fabric of our free market capitalist system.

In all seriousness, the long established public library system is a relatively untapped treasure, especially in these wintery economic times. Instead of accumulating titles in your Amazon shopping cart, you could be requesting books and media (including DVDs) directly from your library (in person or online), and if they don’t have it, they will, in most cases, locate it from another regional library. Libraries routinely offer all sorts of classes for children and adults alike, and reserve special multipurpose rooms for children’s storytime activities, visiting authors and speakers, and a myriad of special events. While some libraries have more comprehensive collections than others, nearly every library in the country has a sizable children’s literature section with all of the classics alongside current award winning books, books on CD, and age-appropriate DVDs.

I personally cannot say enough good things about the library system, and am an avid user and patron (currently with 25 titles out on loan). Beyond being a tremendous resource, it is a great lesson for children illustrating how publicly funded institutions in this country, can truly serve the people of the community.

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, N.Y. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

90 comments

Jo SICK
Jo S1 years ago

Thank you Eric.

ERIKA SOMLAI
ERIKA SOMLAI2 years ago

thank you

Bill Costley
Bill Costley3 years ago

Libraries bring us together are different stages of our lives. We need it now.

Winn Adams
Winn Adams3 years ago

Thanks

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

Joe R.
Joe R4 years ago

I love my library!

Vaughn N.
Past Member 7 years ago

I have another Socialist concept. Why don't we pool the fees we pay to our Internet providers (ISP) and own the Internet ourselves. The public already owns the land that the cable companies rent to put their poles on so the tough part is already done. I will bet that after a year, there would be such a surplus of money in the kitty (to provide for emergencies and maintenance) that our costs would drop dramatically. We don't need CEOs getting millions in wages and bonuses or stocks issued in order to have an Internet. If we collectively pool our funds, we can do better ourselves. Look at the great highways we have, the great military and police force we have. They are all paid for by the people from the pool of funds we pay with our taxes.

Christine Beems
Christine Beems7 years ago

Watch out... if you give a government agency too much credit for functioning efficiently and providing a legitimate benefit to 'the public' it serves.... well, next thing you know we'll be using this 'socialistic' model in things like health care and education... and perhaps even applying the 'cooperative' principle to things like energy stewardship...

Now wouldn't that be sumthin..??? But you know, we could actually do this... We can insist on it now.

christina w.
christina w7 years ago

I am thankful for the resources available in this country, we are able to access information from the world over. There will be no fear of a collapsed economy in the future once we all start changing the way we do commerce and live. It is the very abundance that we enjoy that is also the downfall of the economy at present time. Let's not fear and lets begin to reevaluate our individual business and commerce practices as to keep intact the very fibers which will sustain the future generation without dependency on this continual raping of the entire worlds resources.