I was listening to the Mike Rosen show the other day, where I heard him horsewhip Denver City Librarian Rick Ashton for buying "graphic and violent comic books" -- a Spanish-language illustrated novel in the library.
Rosen seemed to imply several things. First, the REAL mission of a public library was to be "a repository of knowledge," and even to be "uplifting."
Second, by having a book featuring drawings of a violent murder and rape, the library was "pandering" to popular taste.
F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote: "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."
For instance, I have two very strong and absolutely contrary notions about politics. I believe in individual freedom. The preservation of that freedom, it seems to me, is the only moral justification for the state.
On the other hand, I believe in community. There are times when people must curb their behavior in order to live together.
My daughter Maddy is 17, just entering her senior year of high school. This summer she said farewell to many of her friends. They're off to college.
Next year she will be, too.
Although my son is just starting 6th grade I'm starting to notice all those parents whose children are gone. Yet another life change looms on the horizon, and not only for the children.
But this makes me remember many wonderful things. It also makes me appreciate anew a vital aspect of the public library.
There is a certain kind of tree that is sometimes attacked by a nasty insect. When this happens, the tree sends out a powerful scent, very similar to a pheromone, that is attractive to another bug, the natural enemy of the first.
If you didn't have the proper instruments to detect all this, you might say, "The spirit of the tree called to the spirit of the savior insects."
And you would be right. While this is not exactly detailed, it is nonetheless accurate. It tells what happens, maybe even why. But it doesn't tell how.