Even as a lover of e-books, I laughed at this hilarious video titled “Kindle killed the library book.”

It pokes fun at the mean-spirited U.K. politicians shutting down hundreds of brick-and-mortar local libraries. Props to actor-comic Tracey Ullman and friends for mocking the misers.

Library e-books mustn’t kill off the paper variety, at least not for many years and maybe not ever in the case of kids just learning to read. Different patrons have different needs. The all-digital BiblioTech library in San Antonio is well-done, but it isn’t necessarily right for everyone everywhere.

What’s more, even with library e-books, we’ll still need librarians in brick-and-mortar libraries to encourage people to read them.

Not to mention the many other services that local libraries offer, from story-telling to reference help. In fact, as is made clear by the number of people using in-library services, the BiblioTech is a shining example of the need for brick-and-mortar.

But could the U.S. end up like the U.K.? What might happen if Donald Trump reaches the Oval Office? He and like-minded politicians may or may not be as big a catastrophe for librarydom as their ignorant and corrupt counterparts in the U.K. have been. But in terms of his serving as a role model for pols at all levels, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. For now, here’s the take of some New York library advocates on Trump’s son-in-law and library-related real estate dealings. Fair or unfair linkage with Trump? Let’s see how this plays out if Trump becomes President. Far better that it not. If so, however, and if Trump is as horrible as I worry, maybe Tracey Ullman can come up with a U.S. variant of her parody.

Related: Can we trust the latest UK government library usage figures?, by TeleRead Associate Editor Paul StJohn Mackintosh.


  1. But could the U.S. end up like the U.K.? What might happen if Donald Trump reaches the Oval Office? He and like-minded politicians may or may not be as big a catastrophe for librarydom as their ignorant and corrupt counterparts in the U.K. have been.
    I am reminded of Paul McCartney’s cheap shot at President Bush

    Consider Paul McCartney. Last night, the ex-Beatle accepted the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song at a White House ceremony, with President Obama and the first lady in attendance. Upon concluding his performance, McCartney aimed a bolt of sarcasm at Obama’s predecessor. “After the last eight years,” he quipped, “it’s great to have a president who knows what a library is.” The audience erupted in laughter.

    I suppose so, given that President Bush’s wife is a librarian.

  2. @Reader: Beyond the past occupation of Laura Bush, keep in mind the literacy work of the Barbara Bush Foundation. While I disagreed with the Bush Administration on a number of issues, I’ll happily acknowledge the two ladies’ services on behalf of reading. Trump might surprise me in regard to libraries, but I would not bet on it – given the extent of his pandering to the ignorant. What a horrible man. It reflects well on the Bushes that they have refused to endorse Trump.

  3. Keep in mind studies showing that for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, two years of incompetent teachers is all it takes to put them so far behind that then give up and never get what they need most, a decent education. Only two years… and many of them are attended schools where a good teacher is an exception not the norm.

    And who fights, tooth and nail, to keep those teachers employed? Teachers unions. As one dedicated teacher told me, teachers unions value union loyalty above all else. They’ll fight for a teacher that supports them, however incompetent (or perverse). A dedicated teacher who doesn’t display that mindless loyalty won’t get help, no matter how unfairly attacked.

    And who maintains the power of those teachers’ union? The Democratic party. Look around and you can see definitive proof. What are the cities with the worst schools? They’re cities that have had nothing but Democratic governance as far back as the 1960s. And it’s not money. Those cities often spend inordinate per-pupil sums on education. But what they can’t do is fire incompetent teachers or reduce a bloated educational bureaucracy. Money does not fix incompetence.

    Democrats, I might add, also fight, again doing the bidding of teachers unions, to prevent poor parents from having the same options as affluent liberals assume as a matter of course. They refuse to let poor parents choose successful private schools over incompetent public schools.

    There’s an interesting principle to get quickly to the root of many issues. Ask yourself these questions:

    1. Has this problem in existence for more than a decade?

    2. Does the problem seem to be getting worse rather than better despite the spending of large sums of money?

    If that’s the case, then it’s obvious that the real causes of the problem aren’t being exposed and addressed. The next step is to list all the possible causes of that problem. In the case of schools, that would range from the distractions of video games to insufficient funding to teachers unions and the failure of ed schools to turn out competent teachers.

    Now for the critical step. Go over that list, crossing out all the alleged ’causes’ that are loudly trumpted by reporters and the press. They’re not the real cause, because if they were the problem wouldn’t have gone on so long. You can also confirm that by discovering that, yes indeed, increasing spending has no impact on learning. Some of the worst school systems in the country (i.e. Chicago and D.C.) have the highest spending.

    What’s left are the real causes, the causes that aren’t being address because the press in our country refuses to consider them. How many media exposes of deadly, crushing impact ed schools have on future teachers have you read? I can’t recall a one. Media outlets are terrified that they might be targeted by those unions.

    How about the harm done by teachers unions? Well, there have been a few that reported on the three-thousand or so NYC teachers who draw a full salary but do nothing. They’re so incompetent, no school wants them. But their union refuses to allow them to be fired. But that’s only a drop in a bucket to the real problem.

    I might add, yet again, that the problem is a cultural one not a funding for libraries one. In Seattle for a time I lived in a heavily Jewish neighborhood, so much so that my public library was within a block of two synagogues. A librarian there told me that the library was so heavily used, two-thirds of its books were checked out at any one time.

    I spend a summer in DC on the edge of a poor minority neighborhood and the local library was in that neighborhood. On blisteringly hot days I would go to that library and often be its only patron. Despite the heat no one from the neighborhood was there. And the library not only had an abundance of books, it had so many they where stacked on top of one another on top of shelves. No one was keeping the community’s black residents from coming in. The staff was black and there were no Klan at the entrance keeping people out. The cause was a culture that does not value reading and education.
    A few years ago, I adapted a bestselling 1879 novel about life in post-Civil War North Carolina called A Fool’s Errand into a young adult novel called Lily’s Ride. The author of the novel was the foremost civil rights author of the 19th century, Albion Tourgee. It’s based on his experience as a Republican judge in North Carolina and the founder of a school for black children that still exists today as a historically black college. It’s fiction, but its fiction based on reality.

    The saddest part of his book comes when poor black and white parents are coming together to support a poor but decent Republican candidate who promises to end the dominance of the white planter class and provide good schools for both races. To stop him, the Democrats cut his throat and, in typical Democratic party fashion, try to blame Republicans. Tourgee makes quite clear in his book that part isn’t dramatized fiction. It’s based on eyewitness testimony told him by those involved.

    And that brings up a key point. Why does black culture, as opposed to the Jewish culture, not value education? They clearly did value education as newly freed slaves. And the answer is that those aspiration were crushed for over a century by the Democratic party and its activist arm, the KKK. That’s the legacy of slavery that black people ought to be fighting, not whining, playing the victim and not making the effort to read, study and learn like Jews and similarly put-down groups. When today’s Democratic party blocks school choice for poor black parents, its not just doing the bidding of teachers unions, it’s carrying on a tradition that dates back over a century and a half—keep black people uneducated so they are easier to control.

    One final note. If you want to understand why those UK libraries are closing, read a book by a UK prison psychiatrist and slum hospital doctor, Theodore Dalrymple. It’s caledl Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass. The costs of providing “the dole” to this large and growing segment of the UK along with the enormous social costs of crime and drugs is one reason why there’s no money for libraries. The other is that, even when these libraries exist, they’re not used. If you’re the “victim” of forces more powerful that youself, then studying to get ahead makes no sense. You steal to get drugs and, when you get angry, you beat “your woman,” excusing both as beyond your control. That’s the UK underclass.

    The most disturbing point he makes comes when he points out that keeping the underclass down is primarily the product of the British elite, particularly those in government and the BBC, along with social workers and the dreadful UK police. It’s they who continually tell the British underclass that they are victims and can do nothing to improve their lot in life. They feed the hopeless, anger-riddled worldview that keeps the underclass under while, not accidentally, teaching the exactly opposite set of values to their children.

    Here are the books I mentioned:



    The next book is also well worth reading, since it explores the same theme as Dalrymple but looks at the growing white American underclass and its causes.


    Read and weep.

    –Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail newteleread@gmail.com.