In praise of librarians

The Burke County, NC, librarian pulled directories from the shelves, ran her finger down columns of indices. “Now why would…?” she’d now and then ask. Had it not been for her efforts I might not have written Leander’s Lies, my novel-in-progress.

I don’t remember the librarian of the College Park Branch (Orlando), but she at least kept it running, for every week or so I walked home carrying a stack of books. When my kids were little, a librarian gave mothers an hour of reprieve by organizing weekly story times. In my work as an educator, I saw how librarians went out of their way to help students locate materials that interested them or enabled them to complete a research project.

Public librarians, in addition to keeping the shelves current, schedule events that entertain and educate the citizenry. They offer space for a variety of groups to meet: political, environmental, literary. They allow local artists and writers to present their work.

So how can it be that zealots are threatening this group of helping professionals? Librarians are the preservers of democracy, not its enemy. They order and distribute materials that make an educated public possible. They contribute to our informed discourse. Because of librarians we and our children can read varying positions on a host of issues and make informed decisions.

Fanatics are making threats over a stack of books they find offensive without considering what a valuable resource librarians are to our communities. I guess I’m a snob for concluding that these extremists have probably seldom if ever entered the doors of a library. 

A related observation: Do these parents as carefully monitor what their children watch on their computers and television screens? 

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