The reality is that readers have never enjoyed a bigger market for books. Shoppers can buy everything from hot-off-the-press titles in mint condition to out-of-print rarities from secondhand dealers. They can even download audiobooks to their MP3 players and listen to them while jogging or driving to work. Companies such as Google and Microsoft are promising to make enormous amounts of out-of-copyright material available to anyone with a computer and a browser.
The bottom line is that it has never been easier or cheaper to read a book, and the costs of reading probably will do nothing but drop further.
If public libraries attempt to compete in this environment, they will increasingly be seen for what Fairfax County apparently envisions them to be: welfare programs for middle-class readers who would rather borrow Nelson DeMille’s newest potboiler than spend a few dollars for it at their local Wal-Mart. —John J. Miller —Checked Out: A Washington-area library tosses out the classics (Opinion Journal)
Harsh, but insightful.
I grew up in Fairfax County. When my mother dropped my older brother and sister off at their piano lesson, she would take me to the library. I vividly remember the day I wandered out of the juvenile section into the adult shelves, and found a whole set of astronomy books I hadn’t already checked out six times each.