Marian—At It More than Ever

by S. M. Hutchens

When I entered librarianship, I expected to find what I actually did: an institution run by modestly educated and progressively minded women whose actions when political tides turned were predictable: increased liberal power meant increased liberal censorship and adverse pressure on conservatives.

Just as bad, however, was the disdain for civilization—not just Western civilization, but civilization in general. Mencius and Gautama, considered under that rubric, were as regressive and dead-white-male-ish as Augustus and St. Paul. One of the results of this illiberality of liberals was the discouragement of the existence of the library as a quiet place for contemplation by reading, whether from books or screens, and thereby making it less likely that objections to the conversion of the public library into a “community center” (which means a kind of arcade where noise is not controlled) would be made.

These days, those who wish to read from an uncensored library (an elitist activity to begin with), especially to read texts that require intense concentration, whether Aristotle or English for non-native speakers, must tolerate the noise or leave. The library as a place where poor people could go to educate themselves into a higher class is gone. The plantation owners are replacing it with a recreation hall that helps keep them where they are.

I was amused to see the feminists cleft in a stick of their own cutting when, as liberals, they wished to protect the right of people to view anything they chose at public expense, while as feminists, they deplored the proliferation of internet pornography and would censor it completely if they could. No satisfactory solution has been found for this dilemma.

The public library was founded as a democratic vehicle of self-education, but Marian, a liberal with the soul of a libertine in practical shoes (if the truth be known), was put in charge of it, with results that have reached their absurd apogee in our day. She’s still following the Music Man and playing her part in the formation of the youth of River City.

S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.

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