A Broken Library System

I have lost faith in many government institutions. The IRS, the Justice Department, the military, and the CDC (among others) have behaved in ways that, sadly, suggest that they are politicized weapons rather than pillars of support for American society. Yet, the one tax-supported institution whose diminishment emotionally pains me the most is not a federal one, but the local public library system.

I love reading and I love books. The library was a major part of my childhood and my children’s childhood. I have probably written more Musings about libraries than I have about almost any other topic. To my dismay, several changes that libraries have undergone over the last few decades have turned them into institutions that many of my children won’t let their own children enter. Ordering library books online is not even a reasonable, if less satisfying, option. The books available are not of the caliber that they once were. A homeschooling friend who wanted to assign a study of the Industrial Revolution to her children was informed by her local librarian, “Oh, we don’t have books for children about topics like that.” Like what? Topics of historical importance? Topics that acknowledge the contribution of white men? Topics that inform rather than propagandize? The mind boggles at what this librarian meant. Rest assured that if this mother wanted her children to study any number of perverted ideas, she would have many choices available.

When I heard that Abigail Shrier’s book, Bad Therapy: Why the Kids Aren’t Growing Up was being released in February 2024, I put in a request for my library to order it. Considering the success – and controversy – surrounding Ms. Shrier’s previous book, I hope that the book was already on their order list, but I did become #1 on the waitlist for it. The book has now been available in stores for almost a month, and it is still not on the library shelf.

There are two options that I see. One is that, as the book does not fit the politically correct, woke attitudes of the American Library Association, there is foot dragging going on. The second is that the libraries are being so badly run and such foolish ideas have been implemented, that there are either not sufficient funds for the timely purchase of new books or there are not competent people to fill the positions necessary for a well-run organization. Both options disappoint me.

We have raised a generation that does not know that airports used to be places where you could meet an arriving loved one at the gate. A generation that does not know the words of the Pledge of Allegiance or the Star-Spangled Banner. A generation that didn’t know the freedom of wandering the neighborhood at age nine, being told nothing more than to be home for dinner. And we are raising a generation that does not know that libraries used to be places where literacy, wisdom, dreams, and opportunity were nourished.

This Musing is dedicated in memory of Hilly Solomon, a 26-year-old who had just launched a new clothing brand. Her sister wrote, “…my little sister, forever best friend and soulmate was viciously murdered by terrorists on October 7. I was her last phone call. I listened in horror as bullets were being shot in her direction…she [Hilly] dedicated her life to bringing joy to others…only to be killed by monsters when she least expected it, while laying on the ground helplessly, scared and alone. She felt safe, surrounded by friends and love, and in one unimaginable moment, was taken away from us forever.”

And with prayers for the safe return of Matan Angrest, age 21, taken hostage by Hamas terrorists, along with all the other hostages.

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