As I read a recent article from Fast Company entitled Best-selling Author: "Public Libraries Deprive Writers Of Royalties" I was reminded of a line from the movie Good Will Hunting:
See, the sad thing about a guy like you is in 50 years you're gonna start doing some thinking on your own and you're gonna come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life. One, don't do that. and, two, you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a fucking education you could've got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library.
How many of the self made men of the past got their education from borrowed books and the reading room of a public library? Abraham Lincoln is, arguably, the American icon of such achievement. Frederic Douglas, Thomas Jefferson and Lysander Spooner also come to mind as mostly self taught men.
I know some -- maybe most -- publishers would like to do away with the lending of books and even eliminate the used book market. My anarcho-libertarian sympathies are on the side of letting them try. However, beginning in 1656 when a Boston merchant named Robert Keayne willed his collection of books to the town of Boston, the publicly accessible library has worked pretty well to help spread knowledge in this country. Hence, my conservative inclination is to preserve the institution even if I question the wisdom of supporting it through taxation.
H/T to Grant Cunningham and The Revolver Liberation Alliance