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If CDPs Told the Truth

In my last post, I suggested that librarians were being hypocritical about the political nature of their jobs and hiding behind collection development policies (CDPs) that our earnest homophobic crusader claimed were basically just aids to “banning” certain kinds of books librarians don’t like.

Because the ALA’s arguments about intellectual freedom and diversity and censorship are an incoherent mess, the standard ALA line isn’t going to work trying to refute the homophobic crusader.

Instead, let’s think about what public library CDPs really are. What are the actual policies rather than the policies they write down that try to sound fair and balanced and give them something to hide behind when the homophobes and the racists come calling?

Next year, will the Schaumburg librarians display photos of empty shelves where books that challenge Leftist assumptions about the nature and morality of homosexuality should be (you know, pro-heterosexuality/pro-heteronormativity books)?

Well, no, they probably won’t.

First of all, the overwhelming majority of books are in fact pro-heterosexual and pro-heteronormative already. It’s hardly worth the effort pointing them out. Just randomly pick a book from the shelves.

Look at fiction or children’s books, for example. In the vast majority of them the characters are heterosexual. They assume most other people are as well.

Pick a genre, like mysteries. Hard-boiled male detectives are going to have sex with women, not men. Tough-as-nails female detectives are probably going to have sex with men, not women, if they have sex at all.

Romances. Are there some homosexual ones? Probably. Are these anything other than a small minority. Probably.

Children’s books. Don’t most of the children in them have heterosexual parents? I bet they do. Do many of the children have homosexual friends? I bet they don’t. Children’s librarians, feel free to chime in here.

And how many books are in the average public library that actively denigrate heterosexuality? It would probably be hard to find even one.

Thus, there’s absolutely no public library in the country that doesn’t have an overwhelming majority of books that are pro-heterosexuality and almost none that are anti-heterosexuality. You already have 99% of the library collection, so stop being so selfish.

Getting all up in arms because of the relative handful of books that don’t support this norm is just stupid. Yes, I said it. Picking out a few inconsistencies and treating these as the norm to prove your point is what stupid people do. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. You’re welcome.

It’s not that librarians refuse to buy books that are pro-heteronormative. They buy such books all the time. What librarians often refuse to buy are books that are pro-hateronormative.

Librarians don’t like hateronormative books, and they don’t buy them if they can help it. Their de facto CDPs are anti-hateronormative. It’s just that they don’t come out and say that, probably because as far as I know I just made up the word.

Libraries promote freedom, equal rights, and tolerance of diverse lifestyles. The library is there for everyone, except the haters because they’re actively annoying to the other patrons because instead of minding their own business reading quietly they’re always yapping about how it’s a bad thing that not everyone is like them.

So what does that mean in practice? It means that librarians buy all sorts of books that present different sorts of lifestyles. If you’re white or heterosexual, you’re not going to have a problem finding a novel about people like you. I can guarantee that.

But the homophobic books and the anti-gay marriage books and the gay conversion therapy books aren’t about presenting a lifestyle. The same goes for racist or anti-semitic books.

They’re about denigrating a category of people because the writers hate or dislike those people. Anti-gay books aren’t pro-heterosexuality, and they don’t need to be. The heterosexuals are doing just fine.

Anti-gay books are anti-gay, not pro-heterosexual. Racist books are anti-nonwhite. They’re not pro-white. Anti-semitic books are anti-Jewish. They’re not pro-Christian. Sexist books are anti-women. They’re not pro-men.

That seems to me to be the real distinction that librarians make regarding books like this. They buy a majority of books about heterosexuals, and some about homosexuals. What they don’t tend to buy are anti-heterosexual books, and thus wouldn’t buy anti-homosexual books either.

This is a distinction that the hateronormative people won’t understand, because they’re deluded enough to think they’re fighting for some thing rather than against some one.

They’re the kind of people who hate dark skinned people but don’t understand why people call them racist. They hate gays but don’t understand why people call them homophobes.

Library collections don’t cater to people like that, because their entire agenda is about harming other people, and that’s not what libraries are about.

That means the library bill of rights and most actual CDPs are misleading. Libraries aren’t neutral towards every point of view.

The Westboro Baptist Church has a point of view. They proclaim it loudly in public. Buying books, especially children’s books, presenting that point of view in a favorable light isn’t likely to happen, if people like that are even capable of writing books.

And if nothing else, why on earth should a public library spend money on books arguing that some of its funders and users shouldn’t have equal rights? Do they buy books arguing that heterosexuals or white people should be denied equal rights?

So the pro-hateronormative people out there are never going to like the collections at most public libraries, because those libraries are going to have books by people who disagree with them and aren’t going to have many haternormative books.

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Comments

  1. The Librarian With No Name says:

    But we do collect plenty of books that are anti-stuff, and quite a few that are pretty hateful about it. Over a thousand public libraries in the US have “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam,” and that book’s central thesis is that the entire religion is inherently violent and that the only problem with the Crusades is that they didn’t finish the job.

    To keep this Fair and Balanced(TM) we also have “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” and whatever else you might say about Hitchens, he was not overly sympathetic to the spiritual lifestyles of many of our patrons.

    And in most libraries, I don’t think you’d have to comb through the 241s very hard to find books uncritically presenting homosexuality as a sin which puts all homosexuals in danger of damnation. The idea is part of the mainstream of American belief, and I don’t think librarians could keep it out of their collections if they tried.

    The problem appears to be that librarians aren’t in the habit of selecting vanity-published wankery outside of the local history section. Complaining that a random selection of books from the six-digit frontier of Amazon’s sales lists aren’t in your local library is like complaining that your cake didn’t win a blue ribbon because the county fair is racist against pickles.

    • Excellent points, Librarian! Another problem that some librarians face is that they have been taken out of the process for ordering books. Some library systems have largely turned over this function to vendors who supply material based on a profile set up according to what is already in the collection. This automated ordering does not always allow for a diversity of viewpoints, regardless of what the Dewey number may be.

      It is true that that librarians may be able to run out to the local bookstore (the few remaining ones) and pick up a few additional titles from what the budget may allow, but this is rarely enough to make a noticeable difference in the topics represented – unless the title screams out such a difference.

  2. Lincoln Lyceum says:

    Whatever happened to the idea that book selection should be based on quality–at least to some extent? We’ve all swallowed the “give ’em what they want” Kool-Aid. If people want it, we’ll buy it, reagardless of how vile, hateful, or stupid the material. I don’t even know if we still have a lot of librarians doing book selection that even know how to make the distinction between a books that have excellence of form or expression that express ideas of permanent or universal interest. And I’m not just talking about literary fiction and scholarly nonfiction. There is plenty of books out there in various genres that are excellent. “Give ’em what they want” isn’t much of a CDP either.

  3. What about books about ex-gays? There’s likely nothing hateronormative there, at least on average.

    • Are you saying you think “ex-gays” are pro-gay? They changed this huge part of themselves because they thought that part was just fine?

    • @Lorrie, I did not say nor imply that. You’re on your own if you want to perpetuate the hateronormative. Your comment helps illustrate the hateronormative mindset within libraries, and I presume you are somehow connected to a library, as one cannot even speak about ex-gays without verbal backlash. Indeed, I only asked a simple question.

  4. Sorry people, I should have looked up safelibraries.com before replying. Noob mistake.

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