Terry Deary: Libraries are “no longer relevant.”

librarianship, ramblings

libraryIn a fit of rampant douchebaggery, Terry Deary, author of the Horrible Histories series of books for children, accused public libraries of being responsible for the demise of book stores. He claims that libraries give the commodity away, which is quickly driving a stake into the heart of the business.

“I’m not attacking libraries, I’m attacking the concept behind libraries, which is no longer relevant, because it’s been 150 years, we’ve got this idea that we’ve got an entitlement to read books for free, at the expense of authors, publishers and council tax payers. This is not the Victorian age, when we wanted to allow the impoverished access to literature. We pay for compulsory schooling to do that.”

I cannot immediately recall encountering a more selfish or stupid line of thinking in recent history. Libraries and book stores have existed in loving harmony for a very, very long time. One hopes that Dreary’s historical expertise is greater than his logic.

Big box book stores killed the independent book store. A free market, which is what Deary seems to be crying for, allowed the big to eat the small. Barnes and Noble, which began its quest for world domination in 1917, is now being eaten by a much bigger creature: Amazon.com. If one were to hop on the Internet, one would very easily find Mr. Deary’s entire body of work available via the online retail giant’s website. From where I’m standing, Terry Deary is the one putting book shops out of business.

Deary’s argument is horribly classist. Perhaps an author with 25 million book sales under his belt didn’t feel it, but for the last few years, most of us have been living in an economic recession. It might surprise Mr. Deary to learn that, during that time, libraries were doing something other than taking the food off of his plate. Though maybe we should have, that way people could spend more money on his books without having to worry about feeding themselves.

To each his own, of course. He does have a point, after all. Taxpayers do pay for compulsory schooling to educate children. That said, he is opposed to that, too.

At the end of the day, Terry Deary is simply a short-sighted curmudgeon. His brash, ignorant statements brought out a whole slew of really beautiful support for libraries. I absolutely love the fact that he was baffled by the outcry from fellow high-profile authors, such as Neil Gaiman.

“And why didn’t these same saintly authors march in protest against the closure of Borders bookshops as they did against the closure of libraries?” Deary asked.

God help you, Deary. You mean the megachain that helped to decimate the independent book store? A child could have figured that one out.

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