Libraries, and librarians, will persevere, with our support
I love libraries. Among other things my college work-study job was in one of the campus libraries. It’s no accident that it remains the only job I’ve ever had that I actually, honestly liked. I find being in the presence of many, many books to be inherently comforting. Perhaps that partly has to do with what many have pointed out, to the effect that they can’t take education and knowledge away from you.
But “they” can sure try, however ineffectual their noxious defunding and book banning efforts ultimately turn out to be. This is from an article called “Public libraries continue to thrive despite defunding and privatization attacks.”
Public libraries may be the last truly public institution. Linda Stack-Nelson’s essay “The Last Free Space,” published in 2018 by World Literature Today, is a “love letter to public libraries” that details the reasons these uniquely public entities are essential. In it, she salutes the fact that public libraries offer much more than free books, noting the classes, workshops, internet access, resume and tax help, community gathering events, and so forth that libraries provide. However, she argues, this “plethora of resources and opportunities for community” that libraries provide is not the sole reason they are important.
“Libraries are the last place in every town and city that people can simply exist,” Stack-Nelson writes. “Every building one enters today comes with some expectation of spending money.”
…As American generations go, millennials love the public library most of all. A Pew Research Center analysis released in 2017 showed millennials use public libraries more than other age groups.
(Nation of Change)
So what is the psychology of all this defunding and book banning crap, including proposals to jail librarians for refusing to remove “banned” books? Fundamentally, it’s hardly surprising that so many contemporary right-wingers are so terrified of intelligence and knowledge. People often find the unknown (to them) to be frightening.
Another factor is automatic belief in whatever perceived arbiters of truth and knowledge have to say, all-too-often including (especially in this context) Rev. Bubba down at the fundamentalist church. And a kind of group psychology takes hold, involving shared senses of pride and satisfaction in controlling and, when perceived as needed, punishing those who make you feel scared, uncomfortable, and so forth.
(Incidentally, while it’s no longer church law the Vatican still has a list of banned books. From what I’ve seen most Roman Catholics in the US take it about as seriously as they do the birth control encyclical. Assuming they know about it at all. I certainly don’t recall it ever being discussed, in Sunday school-type settings or anywhere else, when I was being raised Catholic.)
So, yeah, we’re talking authoritarianism and groupthink. (While they’re not the same there is a lot of overlap between those two.) Along with plain old fear, and fear-based anger. A lot of the right-wing base really does feel a horrible sense of helplessness at what’s going on, all-too-slowly but still inevitably with the reality of their own dwindling numbers. And if nothing else, just plain old stubborn pride will never, ever let them even acknowledge the possibility that they’re wrong and “the liberals” are right, or at least a lot less wrong.
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