I think libraries should by all means respect Mr. Deary’s opinions, and get rid of his books. And don’t SELL them at your communist library book sales, either; just dump them in the trash.
Finally I arrive at my present library, the one in Bradford, Ohio. It’s a small library, but then, Bradford is a small community, of about 1,800. For that community, the library holds books, and movies, magazines and music; it has Internet access, which folks here use to look for jobs and to keep in contact with friends and family around the county, state and country. It hosts local meetings and events, has story times and reading groups, is a place where kids can hang out after school while their parents work, and generally functions as libraries always have: A focal point and center of gravity for the community — a place where a community knows it is a community, in point of fact, and not just a collection of houses and streets.
I don’t use my local library like I used libraries when I was younger. But I want my local library, in no small part because I recognize that I am fortunate not to need my local library — but others do, and my connection with humanity extends beyond the front door of my house. My life was indisputably improved because those before me decided to put those libraries there. It would be stupid and selfish and shortsighted of me to declare, after having wrung all I could from them, that they serve no further purpose, or that the times have changed so much that they are obsolete My library is used every single day that it is open, by the people who live here, children to senior citizens. They use the building, they use the Internet, they use the books. This is, as it happens, the exact opposite of what “obsolete” means. I am glad my library is here and I am glad to support it.
Every time I publish a new book — every time — the first hardcover copy goes to my wife and the second goes to the Bradford library. First because it makes me happy to do it: I love the idea of my book being in my library. Second because that means the library doesn’t have to spend money to buy my book, and can then use it to buy the book of another author — a small but nice way of paying it forward. Third because I wouldn’t be a writer without libraries, hard stop, end of story. Which means I wouldn’t have the life I have without libraries, hard stop, end of story.
I am, in no small part, the sum of what all those libraries I have listed above have made me. When I give my books to my local library, it’s my way of saying: Thank you. For all of it.
And also: Please stay.
In truth, the problem is much larger than Terry Deary himself – the media has been getting libraries wrong for a long time and it doesn’t look like the issue will resolve itself anytime soon. Instead of angrily blogging about it, however, as I’m wont to do, I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf and try to offer positive solutions – or at least get a dialogue started regarding possible solutions. (Don’t worry, though: if others angrily blog about him, I will read the posts and shake my fist at the sky in solidarity.)
There are things we can do that don’t include angry letter writing, angry blogging, or Deary book bonfires. I’ve listed below five ways to support libraries RIGHT NOW. These are simple, very obvious (hey, sometimes we need reminding) tips that librarians talk about all the time, but they can have a big impact if they are done by enough people in enough communities.
— Rita Meade, Why We Shouldn’t Ignore Terry Deary: 5 Ways to Help Your Library Right Now (Go, @screwydecimal!)
A great response to the Terry Deary piece:
“Access to knowledge is the superb, the supreme act of truly great civilizations. Of all the institutions that purport to do this, free libraries stand virtually alone in accomplishing this mission. No committee decides who may enter, no crisis of body or spirit must accompany the entrant. No tuition is charged, no oath sworn, no visa demanded. Of the monuments humans build for themselves, very few say touch me, use me, my hush is not indifference, my space is not barrier. If I inspire awe, it is because I am in awe of you and the possibilities that dwell in you.”—Toni Morrison