Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Shallow Trumps The Significant In Our Public Libraries

Ron Prenot writes with a valuable perspective on the dominance in the public libraries of the liberal, the sensational, and the fluffy.


I always had the impression that libraries removed many of the books I wanted because of liberal bias. But the following from an article by Robert R. Reilly in Crisis points in another direction.

...The steady elimination of classical music struck me as analogous to what the Fairfax County libraries in Virginia are now doing to weed their collections, which proves that you cannot get only one thing wrong—it all goes down together. According to the Washington Post, if a book has not been checked out in the last 24 months, it goes on the kill list (at Tower, it was twelve months of shelf life for a classical CD). Thus certain libraries are now without Lincoln’s speeches or The Education of Henry Adams. On the endangered list are The Works of Aristotle, Virgil’s The Aeneid, Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, and Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.

It sounds like our civilization is checking out.

I always thought that public libraries were supposed to be repositories of the seminal works of our civilization, not a cesspool of popularity. However, as the Post also listed the 25 most popular books, that is what they are becoming. Can’t you go to a bookstore for Stephen King, John Grisham, and Nora Ephron? Do we have to expel Lincoln and Aristotle to make way for them?...