Barnes & Noble vs The Library

I was thinking about this the other day on my way home from work.  If I had an hour to kill, I’d much rather pop over to my local Barnes & Noble (B&N) rather than the Arlington Public Library or any library for that matter.  My first thought is to buy a book from B&N and not to go to my local library.  Why is that?  What does B&N offer that libraries don’t seem to?

6 thoughts on “Barnes & Noble vs The Library”

  1. That’s what the library profession has been trying to figure out for years.

    Libraries provide everything that bookstores do except for new items to purchase. And libraries provide many things that bookstores don’t and can’t from feature film screenings, to personalized research help from trained research professionals who have Masters Degrees.

    In a public library, it’s all your stuff! The staff might be a little on edge but it’s only because we have to put up with the stuff I discuss in my blog. Truth be told, we really want to help. In a store, the staff generally pretends to be nice to you just because they want you to part with your hard-earned cash.

    So, a better is, why do you want to part with your hard earned cash when you have a better option? If I could figure that out, I would be a god in my profession.

  2. mood, atmosphere, a more popular selection, and an easier to figure out organizing system. Not to mention the Starbucks logo of their coffee shop.

  3. I agree the starbucks logo prbably is a big one 😀 but also having new stuff and some libraries are just older looking as opposed to say B&N that would have the look of being in this century 😀 Oh and B&N would be closer to other stores.


  4. I’m watching this thread with great interest. Discovering what “civilians” think is always beneficial to better serving the public.

    While I agree that the mood and atmosphere is very different in a bookstore than a library, the idea that bookstores have more popular selection is a misconception. In fact, that’s why we use Dewey (or LC) to classify items. There are SO many of them, other schemes simply don’t measure up while trying to make sense of it all. Additionally, the books on our shelves are only a fraction of the overall holdings of each institution since many items are in constant circulation. Did you know that if a library doesn’t have something you want they can, and usually will, order it for you! You can be the first to borrow the “new” item.

    The constant circulation of items does tend to age them. Sadly, this leads to the overall “older” feel. That said, why should that matter if you’re not actually buying the item? The same information is contained therein. Why do we feel compelled to own what we will undoubtedly use only one and then either store, or discard?

    The Starbucks angle has been explored by libraries, and some do offer in house coffee shops with varying degrees of success. The problem with this service is that when the coffee spills, it contributes to the overall “older” look of the place since public libraries don’t have the cash of a for profit business to replace carpets when they get ruined. So, offering food and drink can be a catch 22 for us.

    My library is the main branch so it’s located downtown and very near all kinds of retail businesses. I understand that this can be a big draw and feel very fortunate to work where I do. Branch libraries, however, are usually erected in neighborhoods away from stores, but near the people of the community to conveniently serve them when they can’t (or don’t want to) travel.

    Lastly, did you know that you can borrow DVDs, CDs, MP3s, and either free or discounted passes to museums, and zoos at many libraries? These are services B&N can’t touch… Yet, we struggle to keep up with them.

    If you weren’t aware of the services we provide, maybe ours is more of an awareness problem? Would more publicity of our offerings persuade you to use your public library?

    We want to serve you better!

  5. They have books I can resell on When I buy books, I get the selection of interlibrary loan, but I can keep them for as long as I like, and after I sell them, I’m out not much more than I would have paid in gas and library fines. Maybe libraries will take a hint from netflicks and offer interlibrary loan books by mail on a similar subscription model.

  6. This would definitely be a good model to explore for public libraries. In fact, I believe the Brooklyn system is beginning to do just that… It’ll be interesting to see how it works!

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