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Libraries versus the Internet

Back in April, 2001, Mark Y. Herring’s essay “Ten Reasons Why the Internet Is No Substitute for a Library” was published in American Libraries.

While online services and technology have vastly improved and expanded in the last 20 years, FOWL believes that libraries are still better than the internet. Here are just a few brief reasons why:

  1. Libraries are a "safe space". Libraries are places where people can gather constructively to share views and ideas and not worry about cyber-bullying or trolling which can make people reluctant to engage or share their ideas with others they might disagree with.

  2. Knowing real news from fake news. Without a doubt, there is lots of useful, accurate, and engaging content online, however, the web is also filled with inaccurate and misleading information. Librarians can provide objective, accurate, and engaging information. Librarians are experts in information literacy.

  3. Helping you find what you need. While Google and other search engines are impressive, the results can be overwhelming and not exactly what you need. A librarian can help figure out what you are looking for and figure out the best way to find it.

  4. Libraries do not track reading or search history to sell you things. Your reading data is valuable business intelligence for eCommerce companies like Amazon. The same is true for your web search history. It's not a coincidence that you see ads for a product after a web search. Libraries value and protect your privacy.

When you become a FOWL member, your support helps us provide benefits that are both tangible—such as community spaces and human interaction—and harder to quantify—access, privacy, and intellectual freedom. The internet is an indispensable and irreplaceable tool for modern living. But it is not a library and will not replace the valuable work provided by our librarians.

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