A kind reader sent me this critique of the Nassau County (FL) library system by a “conservative” in Florida, if “conservative” is defined as people who hate people different than themselves, which is what the remnant of intellectually respectable conservatives have let it come to mean.
This critique is very different from our Oakland friend “the Boss,” who bases his antipathy to libraries purely on the principle that they’re paid for by taxes, which according to him are inherently socialist and oppressive, except when they’re not.
Instead of the libertarian, live-and-let-live-as-long-as-I-don’t-need-anything-from-the-state conservatives, Nassau County seems to grow the kind who just hate everyone not exactly like them.
When I read the diatribe of this alleged Christian, the hatred was palpable. So much for “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him,” much less “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Those quotes are from the socialist part of the Bible, so Florida Bible thumpers can ignore them.
The angry Floridian wants to scuttle plans to build a new library, but then wants to keep the old library and fire the librarians, for two reasons: “Our library is corrupted by the far-left ALA,” and “Our library has slanted bookshelves.”
To defend the first claim, he trots out the usual litany of complaints made against foolish ALA actions, like defending terrorists and child pornography, without pointing out that the ALA always loses those battles. If, as I’d suggested, they’d avoided them in the first place, rabid Floridians wouldn’t have such ammunition.
The most amusing reason his library is corrupted is this: “ALA controls 62,000 members and, through its czarist accreditation program of many libraries, largely dictates what books are available for the most impressionable members of U.S. society, our children. For adults who utilize city and county libraries, ALA likewise exercises great influence over what may be read (and, in the Digital Audio/Video Age, what may be listened to and watched).”
This is a man after ALA’s own heart, someone who takes it as seriously as it takes itself. The poor deluded man. I’ve been around a while, and I’m not aware that the ALA “controls” any of its members. The “radical militant librarians” that frighten the poor man into apoplexy are neither radical nor militant, and are only a vocal fringe anyway. The “radical militant librarian” buttons ironic, as if it’s radical and militant to stand up for free speech.
Also, of course, a very large percentage of ALA members aren’t even public librarians, but we’ll ignore that inconvenient fact.
I was also unaware that the ALA “accredited” libraries, either in a czarist manner or otherwise, but what’s a wild, unsupported claim among friends.
He swallows the ALA OIF line completely, though. The OIF claims that a library not buying a book is “censorship.” That’s silly, but it’s pretty close to the claim that a libraries “largely dictate” what books are available or “exercise great influence” over what is read and watched. As “the Boss” and sensible people could point out, libraries don’t control what people read.Only librarians and the uninformed think that. Information is abundant! It’s another wild, unsubstantiated claim that makes what could be a worthwhile critique into an ignorant rant.
The second reason, that libraries have slanted shelves, could easily be remedied by a good carpenter, except that he really means the choice of books is biased. There’s no way around this except to say, yep, the choice of books is always biased, or slanted, and it would be just as slanted if doctrinaire conservatives were in charge. So go request the library buy some conservative books. Light a candle, don’t curse your darkness!
He accuses the library of “intellectual abuses.” Given that the entire opinion column is an intellectual abuse, that’s the pot calling the kettle African American.
He searched the library catalog and found that there are more anti-Bush books than pro ones, and more pro-Obama books than anti ones. Shocking! And this is a county where 72% of voters voted against Obama. Doubly shocking!
Unless you consider the kind of people who read a lot and use public libraries are probably the quarter or more of the adult population who probably voted for Obama. Maybe if religious conservatives used libraries and read more books besides the Bible, the libraries would have them, but that’s not the case. Librarians aim to please, sometimes as much as the ACLU when they defended the Nazi’s right to burn down ACLU headquarters.
What the ardent anti-librarian doesn’t know is that while librarians might buy books they like or think people want, they have no critical capacity. Everything is information, and if you want it, they’ll try to get it for you, even if they think you’re a semiliterate buffoon.
Then there’s another shocker, one that means the librarians “may as well hang a hammer and sickle in their window.” Oh, goodness, the old hammer and sickle. You see, there’s one book about Karl Marx in the library, and it’s pro-Marx. There are NO books about Barry Goldwater.
Since Marx and Goldwater are pretty much equivalent by world historical standards, this discrepancy is shocking. I differ from our erstwhile Floridian in that I don’t think having only one book about Karl Marx gives a library the treasured right to hang up hammers and sickles.
A quick Worldcat.org search finds over 25,000 books with Karl Marx in a subject heading, and that library has only one? They sound like a bunch of fascists to me.
The last two reasons are the oddest, because they cancel each other out. Our Floridian friend is a logical victim of his manifold hatreds. The library, it seems, is both pro-Muslim and pro-homosexual. That’s certainly an odd combination, given that the further you get into Muslim theocracies, the more likely deadly homophobia is to reign. I wonder what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would make of that combination.
If librarians really were the radical militant Marxist this guy says they are, they would probably have come to his house and stomped him to death with their jackboots by now instead of wearing a tee shirt saying “Radical Militant Librarian” to make themselves feel empowered. At least radical librarians and the czarist and yet Marxist ALA should be flattered someone on the other side actually takes them seriously.