A kind reader sent in this somewhat ironic article about that’s supposedly about “mission creep” in public libraries and all the undesirables the author is forced to be around while working in them.
There are homeless people, rowdy people, and thieves. Not all these occur at the same library, since there seems to be some compression of anecdotes and reportage about various libraries, but the impression left is that if you wander into the average public library it “could be mistaken for a halfway house, homeless shelter, or federal penetentiary [sic].”
I guess I don’t go to the right public libraries.
The author concludes:
Mission creep invites creeps. Library, which traces its etymology to the Latin word for book, has come to mean free DVDs, CDs, video games, and Internet. To the ne’er-do-wells roaming the stacks, library means a place to cop a free feel and grab a free laptop. When librarians go slumming for patrons, the slum’s problems become the library’s.
The bizarre folkways that surround stimulate anthropological interest more than formal complaint. Alas, unpleasant company is always the price of free.
Based on the tone and focus of the article, unpleasant company might very well be the price of free.
“When librarians go slumming for patrons, the slum’s problems become the library’s” is very catchy. It’s also either naive or disingenuous. After all, no libraries try to draw in the homeless or thieves, so to imply that libraries have somehow sought out these people is ridiculous.
It might be naive, or it might just be disingenuous, since it’s published in a supposedly conservative magazine. Considering that conservatives since Reagan have been cutting funds for the homeless, the mentally ill, etc., to blame libraries for being filled with people who have nowhere else to go seems a bit strange.
Does this guy not know about that history? It’s not exactly secret. Google: ronald reagan mental health cuts. Cutting public funding for everything but the military is pretty much conservative policy for the past 30 years. This isn’t some conspiracy theory.
And forget anything that might be a public good to help the poor. The very same issue of the magazine has an article about how Obamacare is nothing but a “vote buying scheme,” rather than a flawed attempt to provide health insurance to people left out of the current system, written no doubt by someone who’s doing just fine in the current system. Or another about how welfare is bad for various reasons, most likely written by someone who’s never depended on it.
Conservatives since Reagan have wanted to cut public funding for health, education, and welfare, and public libraries, and yet a conservative pundit has the gall to complain about undesirable people at the public library he uses?
We could ask why is he using the public library at all, since the public library is a form of welfare for people who can’t afford all the books they want to read. It seems like every week I read some nitwit online complaining about how public libraries are socialist institutions that should be closed.
Or we could ask, if your public library has so many undesirables in it, why don’t you move somewhere with nicer public libraries and fewer people unlike you? Let the market take care of the problem!
Honestly, the nerve of some people.