How Libraries Can Help Us Make a More Perfect Union

From Publishers Weekly:

Throughout our history, we’ve see that when we come together in civil, honest conversations based on facts and science, history and truth, we find commonality.

It has taken me several days to come to terms with my anger over the events of January 6, when insurrectionists invaded the Capitol in Washington, D.C., after a morning—indeed months—of instigation founded on false grievances and outright misinformation. For our nation to move forward, many things must now happen, beyond the investigations and the impeachment process that began earlier this month. As a nation, we must find a way to rebuild the civic and educational structures that bring us together. And I believe libraries can play a critical role in this process.

This is hardly a shocking conclusion. Because I’m a librarian, educator, author, and information scientist, one might even rightly say it is a self-serving one. After all, I am invested in the success of these institutions. But I am invested in these institutions because I truly believe in the words our nation was founded on—“to seek a more perfect union.” These words represent a mission, a starting point. We did not form a perfect union; we formed a government to seek one out. And I believe this ongoing challenge is deeply connected to the core mission of librarianship: to improve society through knowledge creation in our communities.

I have seen firsthand how libraries act as instruments of community cohesion. I have seen how our public libraries—from providing rich collections to offering diverse programs like drag queen story hours—help us weave our social fabric together neighborhood by neighborhood, person by person. I have seen libraries host difficult conversations on race. I have seen libraries bring people together on issues of immigration. I have seen libraries stand up for the poor, the incarcerated, and the marginalized.

. . . .

I have seen academic librarians dedicate themselves to preparing college students to do actual scholarly research and investigation beyond Google and social media. I have seen how archivists not only preserve our cultural heritage and scholarly record but make it accessible and meaningful. And I have seen how these stewards of our history help keep us faithful to the values on which our nation was founded, while also forcing us to acknowledge and learn from our flaws—our racism, bigotry, exclusion, and authoritarianism.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

As PG has mentioned previously, he worked in a large university library for a period of time while he was going to school. (However, working as a busboy in the cafeteria at a large dormitory occupied exclusively by girls [AKA women] was his favorite campus job many years before meeting the future Mrs. PG.)

If you credit the old saying, “Once a librarian, always a librarian” then PG is a librarian. Plus a bunch of other stuff.

As a librarian, PG states with authority that a great many librarians are nice people while a few are jerks. Most try to do a good job, even when things get a little boring. (See, for example, working in a large university library on Saturday night after you upset your boss a little.)

Basically, everybody, including librarians, can do their bit to save the world and/or make the world a better place, depending on your opinion concerning terra firma.

However, PG will take this opportunity to announce an amendment to his long-standing motto. “Don’t do business with jerks,” is hereby amended to read “Don’t do business with or vote for jerks.”

A reminder, this is not a political blog and PG didn’t name names and, if you believed him to be referring to any particular political figure, PG would simply respond, “You might think that. I couldn”t possibly comment.”

5 thoughts on “How Libraries Can Help Us Make a More Perfect Union”

  1. The difficulty here is that absolutely no one to the right of center is going to want to have such a discussion with this particular librarian, because in his laser-like focus on the events that transpired between early November and early January (events which, I should note, should never have happened) and his memory-holing the events of last summer and fall, it becomes obvious that he is only offended by lawlessness and incivility on the part of those with whom he does not sympathize politically, socially, or culturally.

    It is, of course, his right to think this way, but it makes him utterly unsuited to host any kind of dialogue on the matter, and as a result any such dialogue hosted by him would only exacerbate the trends he deplores, and it would be at least partially his fault.

    • Perhaps he had no trouble coming to terms with the events of last summer?

      I had no trouble understanding both Jan 6 and
      Summer 2020 were validations of sincere feeling of outrage among the Woke.

  2. Since those to the left of center spent four years trying to overturn a free and fair election, ignoring science, facts, and research all the while, I have a difficult time believing this individual’s sincerity.

    • The thing is, he is most certainly sincere. The problem is that he is blind to the fact that other people might see the world differently from him, and that they might have valid reasons for doing so.

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