Magazine article American Libraries

How the World Sees Us

Magazine article American Libraries

How the World Sees Us

Article excerpt

"I often wonder why all librarians, regardless of their sex, appear so grim? Wouldn't you think that beneficiaries of possibly the best job in the world, who have access to a wealth of knowledge, should have amiable countenances? But that's not the case. To cast someone as Charon--the ferryman who carries the souls of the dead to the other world--a casting director only has to find a librarian."

Chennai (India) freelance writer and artist MERLIN FLOWER in the possibly satiric "Ever Met the Stern Librarian?" The Express Tribune (Karachi, Pakistan), Sept. 2.

"I really love the book discussions we have in the prison library. You see, when we were on the street we have to show off that we were tough men. We don't show our feelings. In here we read this book and find the character in the book has the same issues we have. It takes a little while, but after a time the brothers in the book discussion group begin to open up. Nobody is judging you and we feel a little freer to explore our feelings since more or less we all share the same experience. It all happened in the library."

An inmate in a Maryland prison, quoted in Prison Librarian, Aug. 28.

"The library saved my life. If anyone in my family wondered where I was, they had only to drop by the reading room to find me. The librarian, Mrs. Anna Baker, was my first true friend--someone who listened carefully, responded truthfully, and gave me every scrap of knowledge she could muster through the books she controlled."

Songwriter and musician JANIS IAN, speaking at a gathering of Nashville, Tennessee, school librarians, Aug. 9.

"If it wished to rebuild mutual trust, social capital, and motives for hope and change in the riot-wrecked streets of a nation's cities, where might a truly idealistic society begin? Perhaps its policymakers, with money no object, would plan a network of more than 4,000 dedicated cultural and community centres, their locations scattered throughout urban areas--not just in downtown hubs and comfortable suburbs. It would protect these centres with a core role defined by statute, but give them enough flexibility to innovate, to connect, and to co-operate. Hopelessly Utopian, I know. Except that Britain's network of public libraries already exists. Or rather, it hangs on by the skin of its under-resourced teeth. …

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