By Anand Venigalla
Doctor Panos Mourdoukoutas, chairperson of the economics department, argued in an editorial published by Forbes.com on July 21, 2018, that Amazon would be an effective replacement for libraries. In the article, which went viral, he suggested that with the rise of “third places” such as Starbucks and streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, libraries are no longer the only important place to receive the services they have rendered.
“Amazon have created their own online library that has made it easy for the masses to access both physical and digital copies of books. Amazon Books is a chain of bookstores that does what Amazon originally intended to do; replace the local bookstore,” Mourdoukoutas wrote.
The article angered readers and has since been removed from the Forbes website. Mourdoukoutas did not respond to The Pioneer for comment.
“Public libraries are important for those who don’t have access to the Internet and I personally think holding a real tangible book in your hand is better than something on the Internet,” Sarah Fiore, senior psychology major, said.
“The only person I think could speak from the heart and say or imply that libraries are a waste of taxpayer money is one with no heart,” J Fordsman, a sophomore psychology and criminal justice student, said. “They [public libraries] are a staple of life for the lower and lower-middle class. To outsource such a valuable asset to a soulless, corrupt corporation like Amazon is like signing the death warrant for all lower and lower- middle class in the United States.”
University President Kimberly Cline responded to the editorial in a letter to Forbes on July 26, five days after its posting. In her letter, she wrote from her childhood experience that libraries are invaluable.
“I can say without hesitation that I would not be the person I am today if it were not for my library and the librarians who nurtured my imagination,” Cline wrote. “While times change, today’s libraries and librarians are performing an equally vital service for the next generation of young minds.”
Michael Morea, the director of the Gold Coast Public Library, defended public libraries as valuable services that are in fact quite cheap.
“Amazon is a great source for people to get things, but libraries are more than just a bookstore. We do provide these materials, we save the community money by providing these materials. For every item that we purchase, more than one of us uses it, so we save money in the aggregate by spending less per use than by each of us needing to purchase the material individually on Amazon,” Morea said.
“There is space for both of us. The library is still an important place for the community to be able to come together, to pool their resources and be able to save each other money for learning, recreation, lifelong learning, and more,” he continued.
Morea noted that Amazon is helpful for providing items immediately, but that it has a cost. “If I’m looking to sample new authors, discover new materials, trying to do research and I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for, paying for every single bit of that use gets expensive to me as an individual.
Here in Glen Head, our residents pay ten dollars per hundred of their assessed tax value. Many of taxpayers pay less than a $100 per year. We do feel that we provide our services at a reasonable price.”
Many Post students utilize the campus library frequently.
“I feel more focused when I’m [at Post Library] and it’s like a change of scenery to do work, instead of just staying in my room. There’s always people there to help with anything, and the text line is really helpful,” Taylor LaPorta, a junior elementary education and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) major, said.
Rachel Portnoy, a junior education major, has good things to say about Post’s library.
“I feel the library is very useful. It helps me a lot when writing my papers and doing projects for my classes,” Portnoy said.