Open question: Do libraries help or hurt publishing?

questionmarkI might not know who Nancy Drew is if it weren't for libraries. Granted, I ended up buying most of the series — or rather, my parents did — but the library was the discovery zone. It still works like that for me today; I now own three Richard Russo books because of the library.

Libraries have been a part of most of our lives in one way or another, yet they are in a constant struggle for funding. Jerry Brown, the governor of California, is proposing a budget that would pull back all state funding for libraries. Some libraries, such as the Butler Public Library in Indiana, are thinking out of the box to raise funding (see the banner at the top of their site). And the struggle isn’t only in the United States.

With libraries around the world in such financial jeopardy, a couple of questions come to mind:

  • What purpose (if any) has a library served for you?
  • If libraries ceased to exist, what would the ramifications be?
  • Do libraries help or hurt publishing?

Please share your thoughts in the comments area. To continue the discussion, check out the TOC panel Solving the Digital Loan Problem: Can Library Lending of eBooks be a Win-win for Publishers AND Libraries? February 16 at TOC 2011.

TOC: 2011, being held Feb. 14-16, 2011 in New York City, will explore “publishing without boundaries” through a variety of workshops, keynotes and panel sessions.

Save 15% off registration with the code TOC11RAD