Economics professor ridiculed for writing Amazon.com can replace libraries

- A Long Island University economics professor argued in a Forbes.com opinion piece that the nation ought to replace public libraries with Amazon because people now study in Starbucks, get their books online, and his local library claims too many of his tax dollars.

"That was fantastic," New York Public Library Chief Branch Library Officer Christopher Platt said, laughing.

He logged onto social media Monday afternoon and found his timelines — which he admitted probably sample from more library-focused individuals than the average person's feed — lambasting the Forbes.com piece.

"You know, there's a few things I've learned in life and one is not to get in between people and their libraries," Platt said.

The piece's author declined to respond to Fox 5's request for comment but a Forbes spokesperson confirmed that it has been removed from the site.

"Forbes advocates spirited dialogue on a range of topics, including those that often take a contrarian view. Libraries play an important role in our society," Christina Vega wrote in an email to Fox 5. "This article was outside of this contributor's specific area of expertise, and has since been removed."

Platt pointed out in the last few years the New York Public Library's grown its program-offerings — programs seemingly not available on Amazon — by more than 42 percent.

"Reading, learning, learning how to use Microsoft Office, learning how to converse in English," he said.

The New York Public Library — with its 53 million items, 17 million yearly visits, and $346 million budget — is not one's average, small town, American public library, but in many ways it still functions as a very local institution.

"To provide free and open access to knowledge, to learning, and to inspiration," Platt said. "We share that with Topeka. We share that with Poughkeepsie. We share that with Los Angeles."

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