Monday, July 19, 2021

‘If it gets cut, where do the kids go?’


     You never know what you’ll find at the library.
     Strolling into the Niles-Maine District Library Friday afternoon, its entrance decorated with colorful yarn creations, I noticed the “HOT PICKS” shelf holding a copy of Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.” I've been meaning to read it—her "The Warmth of Other Suns" is an essential American text.
     Grabbing the book, I settled into one of the comfortable blue chairs and read the first chapter, about the 2016 election.
     “The election would set the United States on a course toward isolationism, tribalism, the walling in and protecting of one’s own,” Wilkerson writes, “the worship of wealth and acquisition at the expense of others.”
     That’s the reason I came here. A reader alerted me to what he described as “the cabal of four right-wing library-haters who took control of the 7-member Niles Library board, pushed out the executive director, and are slashing the budget, slashing the hours, cancelling orders for new books and a new roof. They especially don’t want any foreign-language books because people oughta learn English.”
     Can that be true?
     “It is,” said Niles Mayor George D. Alpogianis. “What they’re asking for, in my opinion, is ludicrous. Big politics are starting to trickle down into smaller communities and are now hitting our libraries. The library has always been a safe haven. I have five children, and we’ve spent hundreds of hours in the library. We’ve always felt good about it.”
     Many Niles residents aren’t feeling very good about their library lately. Like all local issues, the complexities and personalities involved can be numbing.
     The basic situation seems to be four board members applying a Reaganite kill-the-beast approach to their local library, throwing out anything that isn’t about stacking books in a room — no yoga for seniors, no librarians visiting schools. A bare-bones library run by people who hate libraries and hate most of the people they serve.
     “If havoc is what you want, havoc is what you’ve got,” said the mayor.

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  1. At this point in history, the political right functions as a hate group. They hate teachers, libraries, foreigners, science, unions, voting rights, democracy itself (see Jan 6).

    If you work to undermine libraries, perhaps democracy's greatest gift to our society, there is something terribly wrong with you.

    Thank you for the heads up on another group of people poisoned by ideology.

    1. You left out the gays, the lesbians, the transgender and queer, the blacks, the Hispanics, and the Jews. And probably a few more I could add to their shit list.

      And who was it that said the three most valuablle things in his wallet were his union card, his voter registration card, and his library card?

      Or did I just think that one up? If I did, I LIKE IT!

      Something to keep in mind, and to think about:
      Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.

      And, no, I did not make that one up.

      Our county library used it to get voters to approve a tax levy. It worked. The library levy passed. They nearly always do in Cleveland. People around here read a lot, and heavily use their libraries. Our long, cold, gray, and snowy winters probably help.

  2. Those who hate public libraries are truly Un-American!

  3. The democratic process is a bitch. Especially when that's all people do. All politics is local. Run for office. Even if it's just library board.

  4. Some people say it is a simple-minded attack on civilization itself. The narrow minded are already frightened by so many things, now the library? Language, thought, ideas … oh my, how scary. Poor people should be busy working.

  5. What's happening to my Library? I grew up within walking distance of the Niles Library when it was kitty-corner from the current location. It was in a small strip of businesses, Pankau Drugs, Certified Grocers, Giovanellis Bakery, a dentist, and in one small section, the Library. Eventully the adjacent unit was added, doubling the research space for students in my neighborhood, though the Encyclopedia Britannica and World Book were our main sources. They built the current structure on the parcel next door to my childhood home. They started a Bookmobile while I was working the overnight shift, which coincided with the invention of the backup warning, a loud bell on a wheel hub that gonged loudly as it backed out of the parking space right under my bedroom window. I would have been happy then had the place burned to the foundation, but they turned it into a real Library that I have included on my roster. Sad that small minded idiots are trying to return to the narrow limits of its roots, in a space that would be inadequate for a 7-11 today.

  6. Maybe it's not quite apt, but I'm reminded of the old saw about Puritan types, who are supposed to be always on the lookout for someone who might be having fun.


  7. Sounds like some Trumpster types are running amok there.

  8. Sounds like they would be satisfied with an old outhouse with a sign on it saying "Niles Public Library".

  9. As I started to read this, I thought, maybe I can suggest he write about the similar issues at my daughter’s library. Then I realized that this IS my daughter’s library! She and her boyfriend plan to be at the meeting tomorrow, even though it’s his birthday. So glad you’ve brought attention to this issue.


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