‘Library’

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Writes John Kizer:

More evidence of the freedoms which make the Muslims hate us. I live in a town of 19,000 people and am reasonably well known. It is a rust belt town that used to have over 50,000 people, but has been de-populated. I am 65 and have lived here all my life. I recently went to the local library to browse. I was shocked by the lack of periodicals, but I thought that, perhaps, it was because of the prevalence of the internet, and they were no longer needed. I was more shocked when I found that all of the old first editions which I had read as a child and the old bound magazines going back to the 1870s were no longer there. They had been in the library for over 100 years. It is a grand old Carnegie library built in 1905. I was told by a librarian that they discarded them because they wanted the shelves to look better with only new books. Of course, the old classics were no longer there in a new form either, be they science or literature. They did have Physics for Dummies. My biggest shock, though, was to come.

I chose three books from the meager selection of science books and proceeded to checkout. The clerk scanned my library card and told me he would have to confiscate it. It was no longer valid. He told me that to get a new card that I would have to bring in a utility bill postmarked in the last thirty days and a state approved picture ID. Remember I have had a library card continuously for over 55 years. I have lived in the same house in this town for 32 years, and I have checked out more than 10,000 books from this library in my lifetime, without incident. I was the former chairman of Friends of the Library. To no avail. I was informed that Homeland Security requires these new rules. It is interesting to me that the library, which removed all the old pockets which showed previous borrowers and which might help a patron find another person of common interests, and which removed these supposedly in the name of privacy, now requires a scannable ID from a continuous user of over 55 years. Are iris scans far behind to check out a book, in case one’s card might be stolen? Perhaps I am just a rube, and things have been this way in large cities for a long time, but this was a rude awakening for me as to the officious manner in which all people are to be treated in our future “secure” United States. So much for small town friendliness in our total surveillance society.

UPDATE The town where I live now also underwent this process, which I assume is a national dumbing-down scheme. The new library, shorn of most everything interesting and important from the past, has a huge staff to look after the NY Times bestsellers, the DVDs, and the books on tape. In my hometown, when the library was moved from a magnificent 19th century beauty of a building to an ugly “war memorial” edifice, the stacks that I had haunted as a boy were purged. And the beautiful old place? It now houses spacious offices for town bureaucrats.

11:30 am on November 9, 2012
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