Public Libraries. Gee Wow.

I just want to mention how amazing public libraries are. I didn’t really realize how great they were until this summer, when I got my first library card. It’s pretty obvious to most people, but I didn’t really get that having a library card means that I have free access to pretty much anything published by a major press in the last 100 years, and plenty of other stuff too.

The internet “democratizes”, or whatever. Content was King, and the likes of google, youtube, and amazon have made it as plebeian as freaking barn dances. But so much of the internet’s content is meta-content. Youtube has lots of videos “about” movies and TV shows. You can’t *quite* watch whatever you want. Even the most popular of you-tube posted TV shows, The Simpsons, is only available as part 1, 2, 3, 4, that kind of crap, and then its taken down. There are only very rarely full length movies on You Tube. Yeah, I know that you can steal anything you want, anytime you want from filesharers or BitTorrent, but there are still barriers. (the legal one being the wimpiest, as far as I can tell.)

People comment. And Comment, and comment. The NYtimes is probably one of the best examples of a company finally coming around to offering its content for free and making it easy to get, to boot. Comedy Central just FINALLY did that with a decent Daily Show video browser. Public Radio, too, with free podcasts on Itunes. But lots of other people want to keep charging. Weird.

Back to the original point. Whereas on the internet, you get meta-content, at a library you get content-content. Instead of reading about “The Abstinence Teacher” on, I’ll have read the real thing, without paying for it, by the end of the week. That just Cool! I reserved my copy from home, on the library website.

How do libraries fend off charges of copyright infringement? Seriously, don’t libraries cut into booksales? I don’t understand how its legal. Do they pay publishers for the right to publicly distribute materials? or do they only have to pay for the physical copies?

Or do publishers think that libraries serve an important try before you buy function? Or is it just that libraries are negligable, as evidenced by the fact that I’m just realizing now, at 24 years of age that libraries exist and perform this cool-ass function of giving me what I want, when I want, for free?

what the hell?


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