Thursday, October 24, 2013

Library programs

It is de rigueur in modern Library circles to constantly come up with vibrant, new, and innovative Library programs and then vaunt the hell out of them. The programs need not be particularly useful or interesting, though I suppose often enough they are. Their main goal is to create the look of industriousness, vitality, and value to the taxpayer. They are to dazzle and confuse the great Republican eye that currently extends deep into the moderate flank of Democrats and would explode with a dangerous rage if it realized that there is genuine, highly effective and popular socialism carrying along, in a matter of course way, right under their noses, right in the innocent Libraries. 

All these programs, useful indeed though they may be, all your WWII speakers and classes on how to use the mouse, the fun with 3D printers and kids reading to dogs, and prizes and book clubs and author visits, all of them are marketing and sales, extras and dazzlements of the eye. They are good works for the overstocked librarians, and they make lovely public relations. And it is all an okay price to pay, maybe even a great price, a win-win price, but only so long as it does its job. Because all of it is mere clothes and fancies, funny hats and politics, but it is not the body. The body of the Library is and will always be books and a place, open to all. If I must, I'll even throw in all the movies and music and, yes, your stupid E-books and internets if you promise to be a little more careful with them. But this is the Library, untethered culture, curated knowledge and art, as much of it as wide open and as free and as good as we can get it. The rest, the rest is baubles, apocrypha, fan fiction.


  1. Well said!
    I love the L.O.T.R. reference. ... "The Great Republikan Eye". I am a librarian in Oregon and yes, the Great Eye prys into our business here as well.

  2. Ooops, sorry, this is from an era where I didn't respond to all comments. But now I correct them as I find them, even if the commenter has long ago wandered away forever. But then, what if they haven't, I ask you.

    Thank you for your kind words. Yes, absolutely LOTR. Curiously this causes me to remember a popular bumper sticker of a decade ago that I haven't seen for a long time: "Republicans for Voldemort". I have always found that one delightfully accurate.
    Just to say, I am only back at this old post to put labels on it, a project that I pick away at without urgency as its usefulness is very, very mild. But sometimes I find them helpful in various ways, for instance searching amongst all the posts concerning librarians or something. I don't know about anyone else finding it useful though.

    Anyway, I was reading this, almost as a stranger to it because it's been awhile, and at first I cringed a little because it seemed so harsh, but in the end I convinced myself. I think it's a theme I keep coming back to. I always get a little nervous at my library about the whittling away at this center.

    1. Oh, oh, and I just realized! I make another LOTR reference, for fans of LOTR references, on my August 8, 2014 post, which I can't link here yet because it hasn't been published yet. It's called "Lake Superior", the post I mean, if you want to go find another LOTR reference, which I would think you would, which you can, starting August 8.

      Did I make the new LOTR reference on purpose because of anonymous's October 24, 2013 comment? No. It is a matter of pure serendipity!

    2. Oh, an by the way, I was looking at a lasagna recipe on the Smitten Kitchen blog, and she has like 1000 comments per post. No, seriously, a thousand! I was pretty jealous.

      But then I realized, hey, I have four comments here, that's pretty good too!


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