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Jul 24 / Christine Illichmann

SIS Alumna Responds to Forbes Article With a Dose of Reality


Image by via Unsplash

This week Forbes Magazine posted (and subsequently removed) an article in which the author stated that public libraries could be replaced by Amazon stores. Many library professionals and library supporters wrote responses to the piece, including SIS alumna Michelle Williamson (MLIS ’02), a librarian at the Ferndale Public Library in Ferndale, Michigan.

Michelle wrote a Facebook post detailing a recent interaction she had with patron. The phone call was one of many she probably had that day, but it demonstrates the resources and customer service library users receive, the likes of which would be unmatched by an Amazon store. Here’s what Michelle wrote:

“In light of the very terrible Forbes article, I appreciated this interaction I had on the phone yesterday.

Patron: I’m looking on the catalog for this book but I don’t see it. I can’t imagine no TLN libraries have it. 

Me: Ok, let me take a look…you’re right, I don’t see it at all. Let me check on Amazon to make sure we have the title correct.

(finds the book on Amazon in Kindle and hardcover formats)

Ohhh, this is probably why no libraries have it. The hardcover version is $91.

Patron: *flustered incredulity about ridiculous prices*

Me: You know, since there is a Kindle version, I can check and see if it’s available on Hoopla or Overdrive. Are you familiar with those?

Patron: I had Hoopla for a while, but I deleted it. It didn’t seem useful.

Me: Well, I will check for it, but it might take me a minute. Can I call you back?

A few minutes later-

Me: Ma’am, they do have it on Hoopla. Would you like to sign up for it again?

Patron: Yes! What do I need to do? How much will it cost?

Me: It’s free with your library card! It will take maybe five minutes.”

Thank you, Michelle, for sharing this moment of your day and for providing an example of just why libraries are unmatched in the resources, services, and spaces they provide!