Thursday, March 9, 2017

Who is welcome here?

Our first Library System-wide Initiative in many months was rolled out today. Our new library director is from the field of public relations and the initiative has a public relations sort of feel to it. This campaign is called "All Are Welcome Here". Coincidentally I am pretty sure this is the same theme we have going on in my lefty working class city neighborhood because every other house I walk past there has an "All Are Welcome Here" sign displayed prominently on the lawn or a front window, as if one can just wander up to their front doors and they'll make you part of the family. So perhaps this doesn't speak glowingly of our new director's creativity that we've adopted all these same rainbow signs for our initiative, but I'm willing to give a new director the benefit of the doubt. And it's a nice enough thought: All are welcome here.

Though naturally one wonders:

Is even the Nazi guy printing out his obsessive screeds about the fake holocaust welcome here?

Yes! He is! All are welcome here!

How about the severely disabled man who can't talk, but gets pushed about in a wheelchair and howls in a loud and terrifying way every few minutes?

Yes, all are welcome here. So of course he is too then. No doubt about it.

How about the teens who order in pizzas against library policy, eat it like they're having a private party, and then smear it in a dazzling mess across the children's room carpet?

The Somali kids?

Yeah, them, are they welcome?

We practically created this Initiative just for them! They are super welcome here.

How about the addled old lady who enlists teams of people to help her with the exact same computer problems in an endless, over and over, groundhog day scenario? Is she welcome?

Sure she is! All are welcome here! She is part of the all, and so is welcome here. It's all pretty simple. Did I mention that all are welcome here?

Okay, but even the obsessive compulsive man who won't touch anything, uses all our hand sanitizer, takes up whole sections of our chairs with Target bags full of strange junk, wears plastic bags on his feet, and sleeps all day? Is he welcome?

All are welcome here.

Yes, but is he?

Yes! Okay? Yes already, yes! He is!

All right, then, what about the smelly guy, wearing rags, and soaked in his own urine. Is he welcome here?

I don't know who you're talking about.

Sure you do. The smelly guy who ruins all our chairs and poops all over the floor and makes everyone gag. the one who uses our phone, that we then have to soak in alcohol, to call cabs that mostly refuse to pick him up. Is he welcome?

No, not anymore thankfully.



  1. I don't know why this is a thing. The word 'public' as in Public Library begets the definition that 'all' are welcome. Except the last person you described.

    1. I agree with you. There is nothing extra being offered here in "All are welcome", and the fluffery of it certainly inspires my slightly acidic take above. But I will allow for the small argument that because of a hostile, sick, and mean-spirited shift in the fabric of our culture the library is keen to re-assert and re-emphasize, as clearly as possible, that aspect, already true, embodied in "Public Library".


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