I can’t quite tear myself away from the Oak Brook story, the one from last week where the mean old conservative guy made a 11-year-old girl cry by making fun of her because she was defending the librarians who’d just been fired. An alert reader commented on a sentence I somehow overlooked.
From the article: "The librarians, who stereotypically remain hushed for this story, obviously feel a bit threatened." This could have been half a stereotype post just in itself!
The commenter had this to say: "If we, as a profession, are going to rely on 10 year olds to speak up for us, we will absolutely get steamrolled by people who see little or no value in a public library."
Is this what went on at the meeting? As reported, the librarians didn’t defend themselves. Was there some defense prior to the meeting? There are various studies showing the benefit of public libraries to the sort of economic bottom of a community. Since money is the only thing some people value, that should convince them. There probably other studies talking about the impact on the community and things like that.
What was clear is that instead of the librarians making a bold stand laying out the case not only for the public libraries but the librarians themselves, a little girl stood up and tried to defend them. Instead of a rational defense of libraries and librarians, the people at the meeting got an appeal to compassion or pity or something. Pity and compassion are worthwhile moral qualities, but not the sort of sound foundation upon which to build a defense of libraries.
They remained "stereotypically hushed" for the story. Is that because they’re waiting for the Teamsters to come in and solve all the problems? Is this purely a labor issue? I admit it was fun back in the old days to watch some Teamsters bust heads and beat up scabs, but I think they’re a lot gentler these days. Are they going to be able to negotiate with people who can’t even understand the concept of a public good?
Labor negotiation is all well and good, but it has to be combined with a vigorous defense of libraries, preferably by librarians. Celebrity READ posters, library tweets, and 11-year-old girls can only get us so far.