I’ve grown used to bracing myself when someone asks what I do (for a living.) Admitting you’re a librarian often has the same effect as claiming you’re toilet attendant at a high end restaurant. “Oh, they still have those? How quaint! And sort of gross.”

It’s the same as any industry. People who don’t use a thing won’t see the need for the thing, even if it’s absolutely necessary to someone else. And people are so varied, from rich versus poor all the way to intellectually curious versus dull as dirt, so it’s impossible to justify library with one argument for every person in the world. An online search for the use of libraries is counterproductive. “Look, they can’t even justify themselves without using Google. Google is the new library!”

I’d like to say, who do you think puts all that information online, organized and ready for access? Where do you think it’s stored and who’s paying for the storage? Why do you think it’s there at all instead of thrown out or left in a box in a closet? But if someone’s already made up their mind, thanks to years of reciting “Google, what is a rock hopper penguin?” into their smartphone, well, their mind is made. Finished. Done. And there’s no use for a library for a mind that’s done.


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