Dear Amazon, Please Don't Take Our Libraries Away From Us

Dear Amazon, Please Don't Take Our Libraries Away From Us

One of the last free places there is.

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Some of the greatest summer memories I have are the days when my mom would take me and my sister down to the local library and let us pick out books to take home and spend our summer days reading them over. As I got older, my obsession with books has grown and I blossomed into a full-fledged bookworm. For this reason, libraries will always have a piece of my heart. I have realized, though, that not everyone feels the same about libraries.

A now-deleted Forbes op-ed piece stated that libraries are becoming obsolete and that it would be better for the taxpayer if Amazon were to come in and replace libraries with Amazon bookstores. Now, I already know what the majority is thinking and I'm thinking the same thing: there is a lot wrong with that idea.

Starting with the taxpayer argument. According to Richard Auxier, a researcher at the Tax Policy Center, if all libraries were dissolved and that money was returned to taxpayers, each person would only receive $36. Libraries, on average, take such a small percentage of taxpayers money, that most have no problem with the funding of libraries.

The biggest problem with this argument, however, is his idea that libraries are becoming obsolete. In 2016, 48% of people over the age of 16 said that they had visited a public library in the past year. These people go to libraries for a myriad of things, not just to read books. People go to libraries to do research, to use the computers or free Wi-Fi, to get information, to attend free classes that are offered, to apply for jobs, or to do a number of other things.

Those in higher income communities may not see the need for libraries. They have internet in their house, they have the money to buy books, and the access to information if they need it. It is those in lower income communities that need the resources libraries provide. One of the most used resources provided by libraries other than the borrowing of books is access to the internet. As only 45% of those that have an annual income of $30,000 or less have a broadband connection in their homes (compared to 87% of those making $75,000 or more). This makes libraries essential for teenagers who need the internet to do research or homework for school, those looking for jobs, or those applying to college.

Libraries also over an assortment of classes that are free to the public. These classes cover a wide range of topics including reading classes, ESL classes, computer classes, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

When the topic of dismantling the public library system arises, the people it is targeting are those who need the libraries. Those who want them replaced by bookstores are those who don't see libraries as anything more than someplace to borrow books from.

I'll leave you with this quote from Ray Bradbury: "Without libraries what we have? We have no past and no future."

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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A Little Skepticism Goes A Long Way

Be informed citizens and verify what you see and hear.

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These days more than ever before we are being bombarded constantly by a lot of news and information, a considerable amount of which is inaccurate. Sometimes there's an agenda behind it to mislead people and other times its just rumors or distortion of the facts. So, how do you sift through all this and get accurate information? How can you avoid being misled or brainwashed?

This is an important topic because the decisions each of us make can affect others. And if you are a responsible citizen your decisions can affect large numbers of people, hopefully positively, but negatively as well.

It's been said that common sense is not something that can be taught, but I am going to disagree. I think with the right training, teaching the fundamentals behind common sense can get people to have a better sense of what it is and start practicing it. All you will need is to improve your general knowledge and gain some experience, college is a good place for that, then add a little skepticism and you are on your way to start making sensible decisions.

One of the fundamental things to remember is not to believe a statement at face value, you must first verify. Even if you believe it's from a trusted source, they may have gotten their info from a questionable one. There's a saying that journalists like to use: "if your mother said, 'I love you' you should verify it.'" While this is taking it a bit too far, you get the idea.

If you feel that something is not adding up, or doesn't make sense then you are probably right. This is all the more reason to check something out further. In the past, if someone showed a picture or video of something that was sufficient proof. But nowadays with so many videos and picture editing software, it would have to go through more verification to prove its authenticity. That's not the case with everything but that's something that often needs to be done.

One way of checking if something sounds fishy is to look at all the parties involved and what do they have to gain and lose. This sometimes is easier to use when you're dealing with a politics-related issue, but it can work for other things where more than one person/group is involved. For example, most people and countries as well will not do something that is self-destructive, so if one party is accusing the other of doing something self-destructive or disadvantageous then it's likely that there is something inaccurate about the account. Perhaps the accusing party is setting the other one up or trying to gain some praise they don't deserve.

A lot of times all it takes is a little skepticism and some digging to get to the truth. So please don't be that one which retweets rumors or helps spread misinformation. Verify before you report it.

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