A Rant on Libraries
and Their Destiny
So this is what libraries have come to!
Time Magazine reports that the director of the library system in
Fairfax County, VA., is presiding over the destruction of books
including classics like For Whom the Bell Tolls and To
Kill a Mockingbird. Time magazine reports that they will destroy
any book not checked in the last two years.
The director is quoted as saying "We're being very ruthless.
A book is not forever."
I beg to differ.
Putting aside exigencies like mold and fire, a book is forever.
The piece in my newsletter, "Sharing with Writers," is
about the palimpsest from which our scientists are struggling to
retrieve the remains of some of Archimedes's work. That they are
doing so puts the lie to that "not forever" remark about
as well as anything.
That people love old books, even those on ancient parchment, is
not new. What is new to me is that our libraries have come to this.
Aren't libraries the repositories of a culture. Think one of the
seven wonders of the ancient world, the library at Alexandra. Think
the new one that Alexandrians have built in its place, put their
hearts and soul into!
Libraries are places where people can go to find To Kill a
Mockingbird when the spirit moves them or when someone (Praise
be!) chooses to talk to our young people again about tolerance.
Or when . . . .well, you get the idea.
What about the concept of free press and free speech. What about
the idea that ideas of all kinds should be available to our populace
not just the popular ones. Who gets to judge what is popular anyway.
Do we measure that like this librarian did. With the number of times
a book has been checked out. Do we let a librarian decide on its
political slant. Or its religious one. Certainly not if every librarian's
mandate is as poorly realized at this one's who appears to equate
"popular" with "quality" or "needed."
I'm really, really ticked off at this one. Of course all libraries
can't keep every book that ever decked its stacks. Economics are
a consideration. But I believe that we hire good librarians (and
good directors) to make decent choices for the good of the community
and it seems to me that this particular director got it wrong.
I also believe that we get the kind of libraries (and government)
we deserve. It looks as if we are all doomed.
Each month in this box, Carolyn lists
a writing or promotion tidbit that will help authors and a
tip to help readers find a treasure among long-neglected books
or a sapphire among the newly-published.
Tidbit: Carolyn has a new blog, actually a resource
for writers who want their reviews republished (with permission
of the original publishing journal and the reviewer, of course!).
Visit it at www.TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com.
You might even look for some of Carolyn's old MyShelf.com
reviews there—with permission from MyShelf editor and
guru Brenda Weeaks, of course.
Tip: Are you tired of long-winded reviews? You just
want to know what the book's about and what the reviewer thought.
Fast. So you can get to reading!? Then, in addition to www.MyShelf.com,
pick up a Time Magazine from a shelf at your library when
you're there. They often run reviews. Even little series of
reviews. They're punchy. Well-written. No frills.
MyShelf.Com. All Rights Reserved.