Volume > Issue > Checking Out of the Local Library

Checking Out of the Local Library

NOVELTY OVER GOODNESS

By Eric Jackson | July-August 2023
Eric Jackson is a software developer who lives in South St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife and their four children. His work has been published previously in Saint Austin Review.

It is a curious phenomenon when an institution changes its nature while retaining its name. Such has occurred, regrettably, with many Catholic colleges and universities that are now only nominally Catholic. The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, a local institution, for example, was in the news recently because it allows men who identify as women to room with female students in its residence halls, a fact that would surely have appalled the institution’s namesake — once he understood what on earth we were talking about.

Something similar has happened with the local public library. The building looks mostly the same. The computer terminals are still not new and are not the prime cause of the rot infecting the institution, and the shelves are still stocked with books. But something has been altered.

It is most noticeable in the children’s section and, more specifically, in the books the librarians choose to put on display. They tend to be either product placement — books based on the Paw Patrol television series, for example — or propaganda “celebrating” some minority group, sexual or otherwise. Occasionally, you will see something devoted to Dr. Seuss or Eric Carle or some other member of the children’s canon, but this is exceptional. Perhaps a cardboard cutout of Peter Rabbit is on display, but Beatrix Potter’s Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies is nowhere to be found.

The product placement is easy enough to understand. The bureaucrats have been told that it is important for children to read. And, evidently having never been children themselves, they do not know that children are drawn to good stories with beautiful pictures. They believe the only way to get kids to read is to sucker them in with books about television characters. The same principle has long been applied to breakfast cereal, and with the same dubious results.

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