Some people say this to bash libraries. (I think they are probably not terribly clever) Some people say it to show we can have free market and socialistic institutes co-existing without some sort of terrible totalitarian take over of society.
Socialism can be defined by a communal, societal ownership of goods. That is what we do with public libraries. As a city, or parish, or state we own books, dvds, a building, etc. We as a group pay people to work in that building and make things run. We as a society create those jobs. Barney Frank likes to say that government is the word for things we can do together better than we do individually. Creating a library is a perfect example of this. Together we create an amazing resource.
People like to make critical remarks about libraries. They call them things of the past and claim they are dying. They probably believe this because they don’t bother to use the resource available to them. They don’t go to the library and see it full of people. They don’t ever look into the non-book resources offered by the libraries like classes and e-books and dvds and activities for children. Instead they just mutter something about print being dead. As if the library was just a warehouse of books and not a community center and a place of learning.
I went to the library today. The library that my parish taxes pay for and that I would gladly pay extra tax to support if it was in need because it is so important. It was full of people and the workers were more than willing to help me find which section a new book had been shelved in. Our library is far from dying. We are lucky enough that we are getting a new main branch. One that is larger and will provide more opportunities for community and learning. Opportunities that are open to everyone in the community even if they have extremely limited means.
Seeing the construction gave me hope that we can work together as a community and build resources for the common good. Resources like our library, parks, schools and public transit.