The Times 

Libraries are places for self exploration

 

August 17, 2023



One does not admire the person who attends the Community Picnic and spits in the spaghetti sauce. It reminds us of the pesky kid we all knew who would play Monopoly until it was clear that winning was not a possibility for him, and who would violently upend the board sending the game pieces tumbling to the ground and run home, crying.

The Dayton Library opened in October of 1937, the same year as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and Mount Hood’s Timberline Lodge.  For 86 years, thousands of Columbia County men, women, boys, and girls have made active use of the information stored within, objective information offered freely.  Citizens discovered needed information, found new worlds to explore, and had a safe place where each could pursue the right every American citizen is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: the right to choose what one reads in a non-judgmental space, a special place unlike any other. A public library is not a place for covert agendas, personal or political: it is a place for personal exploration.

  There was a reason millionaire Andrew Carnegie spent millions of his fortunes on 2,500 public libraries, believing that working people could acquire knowledge to improve themselves.  To this day, many of his libraries exist across the country, places individuals can seek essential information about the people they want to be, the careers they want to pursue, the authors they want to experience.  No one tells them what they can or cannot read. 

What arrogance, what unmitigated nerve to think that one person, particularly someone lacking educational or literary credentials, has the right to shut down our beloved library, to set the rules by which we must abide, to seed discord by using the shabby, bugaboo phrase “protect the children” in an attempt to tear down a community resource that for decades has actually served children, freely offering more local resources of all kinds than any agency in Dayton. Shame!

In all my years as an educator, I suspect most children want to read about elephants or pink ponies, about steamboats or Disney heroines and I laugh at the vision of a kid dashing into the library looking for a sex book!  How silly an image that is!  And any teenager who wants graphic knowledge about the way the body works, has such information resting in hand, a device that for good or bad controls so much of our lives.

To cut to the chase: please take your tawdry and trivial political complaints elsewhere (perhaps the moon!) and leave our library to function  as it has for 86 years.  We have more important issues which deserve our focus: a community pool, for instance--and what a waste of our community resources having to spend time, money and energy dealing with the division sewn for your cheap and personal agenda.  

Dave Campbell

Dayton, Wash.

 

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