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When It Comes To Reliable Information Libraries Beat Facebook

, , , | Right | September 19, 2021

In Sweden, we have the Library Act, which means that every municipality MUST have at least one public library. It’s against the law to close down library services permanently. Not everyone is aware of this fact.

This takes place before the global health crisis, so it’s business as usual. I’m at the information desk helping a patron when a lady walks in. She doesn’t seem to have a particular reason for her visit; she just wanders around aimlessly for a bit, looking at the books. I assume she’s new in town, or new to the library, as I’ve never seen her before. Her general appearance doesn’t raise any red flags. She’s maybe in her fifties, well dressed, and doesn’t look much different from our regular patrons.

After I’ve finished helping the patron I’m with, I turn to the lady.

Me: “Let me know if you need any help.”

The lady comes up to the desk.

Patron: “I didn’t know you were still open. I just wanted to come in and have a look before you close.”

I misunderstand completely, thinking that she’s talking about our opening hours.

Me: “We’re open until five o’clock, so you can take your time.”

Patron: “I mean until you close down for good. When is that happening?”

At this point, I’m very puzzled. However, another public library in the area recently had to close one of their branches due to budget cuts, so I think maybe she’s referring to that.

Me: “Oh, don’t worry. We’re not closing down. We’re the only library in this municipality, so we can’t close down.”

Patron: “I read that you’re going to close down. There’s no need for libraries anymore; everything’s on the Internet.”

Me: “Can I ask where you read that? I think you’ve been misinformed.”

Patron: “Facebook said so. No one uses the library anymore because everything is on the Internet, so all the libraries are going to close down.”

I gesture to the room which, granted, is not completely packed, but there are still a lot of patrons browsing the shelves, reading magazines, and studying.

Me: “Facebook is actually not the best source of reliable information. As you can see, there are plenty of people here and we’re not going to close down.”

Patron: “No, everything is on the Internet now. You’re going to have to find another job.”

Me: “It’s literally illegal to close down this library. We’re not closing.”

Apparently, nothing I say gets through to her because she just smiles. Through the whole exchange, she’s been perfectly polite and not at all aggressive.  

Patron: “I just wanted to see what it looked like since you won’t be here for much longer.”

I gave up trying to argue with her. The lady wandered around for a few more minutes and then left, apparently still under the impression that libraries were obsolete.