Thursday, September 20, 2007

Books "they" want us to buy

I envy the staff that buys our fiction books. Her purchasing criteria are whether the book is wanted or not wanted; whether it is a best seller or not a best seller. Sure, she may haggle over the quality of a title, but in the end, there can be no question that if our public wants something, it's a good thing for us to buy. I don't have it so easy. I buy non-fiction. The classification itself suggests some level of truth, a characteristic that isn't so easy to establish. For example, there are a collection of books out there promoted by a late night infomercial huckster. He suggests that "they" don't want you to have the information in his books. A little research reveals that this author has an extensive criminal history involving fraud. In fact, the first edition of his book, which we own, was primarily an advertisement for his website where even more information "they" don't want you to have can be gotten, at an additional price of course. When the request from patrons came poring in for this title, I couldn't help but feel like an accessory after the fact for this schmuck. In another case, a few years back, a semi-famous historian was found to be a holocaust denier in a British civil suit. Some of his books were cited as having inaccurate or misleading information in them that contributed to the idea that the horror of the holocaust is vastly overstated and more-over that Hitler didn't know it was happening. Lo and behold, we own one of those titles. Do I remove it from our collection? What about all the other stuff we own in "non-fiction" that is also misleading or just plain wrong? I can't find it all. I wonder if they have this problem in the kid's department.

Stephen Bertrand
Assistant Director

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Last night I tried to explain Al-Qaeda to my 6 year old son. We were picking out his clothes for school. I suggested that he wear his t-shirt with the American flag in honor of September 11th, and the conversation turned to what happened that day.

It was a Tuesday, and he was 9 months old. Some of the things that I remember: that his day care was on "lock down" so I was late getting to work. When I got there, the staff asked permission to listen to the radio - we had no TV. As the days events unfolded, we didn't know what to make of what we were hearing: our State capital closed, the local mall closed. The staff asked me if we should close. So I called our Mayor, Mayor Green, who wisely said no. The best thing we could do was to stay open.

That entire day people came to our Library not so much to check out a book, but to talk to us; to be with other people; to gather with their neighbors; to get information. I truly realized that day the importance of our role as a community center. In the days, weeks, and months after this event they continued to look to us for answers; for information about the Middle East, Muslims, Islam, and Al-Qaeda.

While I have donned a red, white, and blue outfit today, and displayed our American flag in front of our house, probably the most patriotic thing that I am doing is going to work. The Library is open, providing access to information, a forum for differing opinions, and a common meeting place for all.

Cindy Fuerst
Library Director

Monday, September 10, 2007

Book Barbeque

There is nothing unusual about barbequing over a long holiday weekend ... unless you use books as charcoal briquettes. A Kansas City bookstore decided to burn all of the books they couldn't sell over the Labor Day weekend. This is the second time they have done this; the first time was over Memorial Day weekend. Tom Wayne the owner of Prospero's Books said he is protesting "what he sees as society's diminishing support for the printed word." He said he had over 20,000 books which he could not give away to thrift stores or local libraries. See for Yourself: Tom Wayne on YouTube . If someone called our library and asked us to pick up 20,000 used books, I would have to politely decline the offer. Twenty-thousand books is A LOT of books, and there would be considerable costs involved in hauling, storing, sorting, and processing those "free" books. Unfortunately if no one wanted to buy them, there is a high probability that no one would want to check them out from the library.

Cindy Fuerst
Library Director