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Fighting Nazis @ Your Library

The library news was mixed last week. For example, ACRL’s latest “keeping up” thing has to do with mindfulness, which is all the rage these days, if one can rage about mindfulness. Is mindfulness what we need right now?

Here’s how it can supposedly help academic librarians:

As a librarian, you become clearly attentive and focused to truly hear, listen, and respond to each student’s need with nonjudgment and authentic interest.

These mindful techniques and interactions can extend to your faculty collaborations, too. “Loving kindness” meditations may help to create a more empathetic listening environment, guiding your communication interactions during faculty collaborations.

Maybe. But it’s just as interesting to see what’s not considered here, such as interactions with other librarians.

There’s nothing about supervisors, supervisees, or colleagues being “clearly attentive” or “focused” or having “loving kindness.”

Maybe “loving kindness” meditations, whatever those are, would “create a more empathetic listening environment” for faculty collaborations, but a lot of times it would be a bit help if they’d make those toxic colleagues just a little more toxic.

It’s nice that ACRL wants to make librarians more mindful of students and faculty, but it ignores the fact that a lot of the time hell is other librarians.

No amount of mindfulness training in libraries would help with this situation, though. A librarian, or at least a library worker, at the University of Virginia library had a stroke that may have been caused by him being hit in the neck by a torch while he was protesting the Nazi clowns descending upon Charlottesville.

Whatever the cause, strokes are bad, and even if Nazi torches turn out not to be the immediate cause, Nazis are still bad.

Maybe more mindfulness would have caused him to act differently towards Nazis, I don’t know. It seems like there would be only so much “loving kindness” decent people could direct toward Nazis, but the world’s a crazy place.

“I hate black people and Jews!” yells the Nazi. “I’m responding to you with nonjudgment and authentic interest,” replies the Mindful Librarian.

Yeah, I don’t see it happening, either.

While he is a library worker of some kind, obviously he wasn’t acting on behalf of the library. He wasn’t protesting in a professional capacity, or at least the article didn’t mention it if he was.

But, based on the social media stuff I’ve been seeing, lots of librarians would like to protest in a professional capacity.

That makes some sense. Nazis hate books and ideas and they used to burn books when they got together instead of walking around with decorative lawn torches like a bunch of unsuccessful white men looking for a party to crash violently.

However, there’s one thing librarians should keep in mind when going up against Nazi goons: they don’t practice “loving kindness” meditation. They’re not mindful, they’re violent. You can’t reason with them. You can’t appeal to their better natures.

Right now they’re out in the streets. Or at least they were out in the streets. Charlottesville is just one city, but based on how some librarians are going on, it could be every city in America soon. And once they’re out in the streets, it’s only a matter of time before they come into the library, if nothing else to use the wi-fi and restrooms.

So what can you do? Learn how to protect yourself seems like the best option.

The ALA is all about security solutions for your library, and now the ALA believes there are “new challenges to libraries,” because a library in Charlottesville was challenged.

Well, sort of. According to the article, “Jefferson-Madison Regional Library (JMRL) administrators were on the front line during the Charlottesville protests, choosing to close the library for the day, secure the facility, and provide support to local law enforcement.”

I don’t think “on the front line” means what they think it means, but you get the idea. One library closed before a neo-Nazi rally, and now we’re all facing challenges.

Where wasn’t there a neo-Nazi rally? Every other city in America. What libraries weren’t challenged? The other 16,000 or so public library locations. So clearly we have something to worry about.

There was of course that “free speech” rally, but that was just embarrassing.

The obvious next step, therefore, is to prepare for the Nazi Library Invasion.

Having to fight Nazis in the library seems unlikely, so I haven’t thought this through completely. If the Nazis invade my library there’s a broom closet I plan to hide in for the duration.

But other, braver librarians will want to be on the actual front lines, and I want to help them, too.

I’m just spitballing here, but it seems like books would be a plentiful weapon of choice.

In addition to being a weapon against ignorance, a good unabridged dictionary could serve many Nazi-fighting purposes. It could be used to block a swinging torch, or, dropped from a great height, it could be used to incapacitate a Nazi. Stacks of them could provide barricades if necessary.

And I doubt tiki torches burn at 451 degrees Fahrenheit.

Also, it turns out that a wood rod newspaper stick somewhat resembles a shinai, or bamboo training sword used for training in kendo, which is some kind of Japanese sword fighting technique. They’re also about the same price.

Librarians could be trained in kendo and learn to wield wood rod newspaper sticks as deftly as kendo masters, and having a few dozen stashed around the library wouldn’t look at all out of place. 

I’d bet on a librarian kendo master with a newspaper stick over a Nazi clown with a tiki torch any day.

Libraries often have a lot of steel shelving. An individual steel shelf strapped to one’s arm with durable book tape could make a great shield. Steel shelves don’t buckle under the weight of knowledge, so they sure won’t buckle under the flimsy weight of a Nazi swinging a tiki torch.

With a steel shelf shield strapped to one arm and a wooden newspaper stick swinging from the other, Nazi clowns will think twice before messing with librarians. Then they might go away peacefully, after using the restrooms and using the wi-fi to check the latest Daily Stormer message boards.

If you’re going to fight Nazis, be careful and be prepared, because “loving kindness” meditation and wishful thinking won’t be enough. Newspaper sticks and steel shelves just might be.

Or you could just close the library for the day and wait until the Nazi clowns go home. That works, too.



  1. ThreeTimesALaDay says:

    Mindfulness and loving kindness come in part from Buddhist beliefs. As a Buddhist and a librarian, I do find they have a place in my work life. I understand that as they are often presented out of context that they may not work for everyone-however fighting hate with love has had some success in the past. Martin Luther King was an admirer of a great mindulness practioner, Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen master and recent subject of a documentary narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch.

  2. Julia Franklin says:

    I am harking back to one of my Library classes on Reference, when asked what I would do if a patron wanted information on disproving the holocaust, not an impossibility with Nazi and Alt.Right library patrons in Idaho. I answered, I would help them find the books they were seeking, while inwardly thinking “what Idiots!” The rights of all library patrons to find the information they seek, or services of the library we extend to all members of society, cannot be stifled by our own prejudices, opinions, or knowledge of historical facts. We have to reach out to all members of the communities. We do not have to participate in the book burning, but we do have to allow them the same rights to the library as any other library patron, as long as they are following the rules of the library. I know you wrote this tongue in cheek, but it is a real issue of what do library do when Alt.right and NeoNazis want to use the library facilities. Do we allow them to use auditoriums or meeting rooms to hold pre rally-Rallies? The tracks of history show us that rolling over and allowing them to use facilitates does not guarantee their good behavior, but we cannot stop them, just as we cannot stop, other groups from using the facilities. I am glad I am in a private college Library and not a member of the public library world, difficult questions for the public library world Just my two cents worth

  3. Anonymous says:

    A mentally ill woman came in our library a handful of times in her passage through the world, and looked through the books about the Holocaust in the children’s section, darkly muttering to the general discomfort; once or twice feebly engaging the librarian to point out the “errors” in them – i.e. that it happened. She was pathetic and no doubt completely extraneous to the world, but we choose not to lock up such people.

    This is a conversation about crazy people, and how to handle them.

    This recollection of the Charlottesville organizer is salient, not because of efforts to establish his radical left bona-fides, but because it makes clear his disturbed mental state.

    There is no army of “Nazis” in America.

    If that disappoints you – check your own id.

    • Anon (which you hide behind in cowardice), your rhetoric towards “crazy” people is astounding. Mentally ill is not ignorant. I am a mentally ill librarian. You are ignorant, especially when you fail to see the raising number of hate crimes, hate speech, and rallies in America and won’t call them by name.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, we can pretend she was in her right mind, if that’s a comfort to you, as with the various recent authors of mass shootings; and effectively, of course, that’s what we do in practice.

      It’s hard to keep a handle on the hate crimes. The attention when they happen is so many orders of magnitude greater than when they are later found to be hoaxes.

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