Recently I facilitated the review of some scholarship applications for a large corporation. It was an eye-opening experience on several levels.
The first surprise was how expensive college has become. My own kids are 11 and 5, so aside from establishing some pre-tax savings accounts, I haven't given this much thought. At this point, most colleges seem to cost more than I made my whole first year as a professional librarian.
This week happens to be both National Library Week and National Holocaust Awareness Week. At first blush, there wouldn't appear to be much in common between them.
But I have a picture from May 10, 1933. A "brown shirt" (Nazi) is throwing an armful of "un-German" books onto a bonfire. The place: Berlin.
In January of the same year, Adolf Hitler had been named Chancellor of Germany, the most powerful position in the government. The aging President Hindenburg hoped Hitler would lead the nation out of its grave political and economic crisis.
Once I caught a Seinfeld monologue about librarians. The gag was that we're like a kid who keeps letting you borrow his stuff just so you'll like him. It all sounds a little pathetic.
There's some truth to it. We quite consciously hire people who hate to make patrons unhappy. So we take the extra step, and try to find a way to make people walk out of the library with a smile on their faces.
But I have decided that there's one area where we're just going to have to get tough.
Last night over dinner, a friend noted an irony in the Columbine tragedy. "Everyone responded with a call to prayer. Yet the one place you couldn't pray was school."
Others put their faith in statistics. Nationwide (according to the Denver Post), roughly 250 people have died as a result of school-associated violence since 1992. Until Columbine, the most people to die in a single incident was 5, in Jonesboro, Arkansas.