So says Pat Losinski, director of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, in the Columbus Dispatch (5/17/09). The article was about the brave new world of central Ohio libraries as they desire to become urban trendsetters as they “get their groove on” by embracing the latest electronic toys, rather than being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. Specifically, these toys are electronic readers, such as Amazon’s Kindle and Playaways (several hundred of which were recently purchased by the Westerville Library). These electronic readers appeal to a younger demographic who would much prefer to be passively read to, rather than being forced to expend mentally energy on reading comprehension. State librarian Jo Budler rallies behind the exponential dumbing down of our society by proclaiming that taxpayers are “getting more for our money, not less”. Why, this is no less than a “digital arms race” in which we must plow ahead full steam ahead, according to the Delaware County Library director! In fact, Delaware County voters just passed a ten-year property tax on themselves to build another library branch, and of course beef up their arsenal of Playaways – without which civilization evidently cannot advance.
And pray tell, what shining example is used for these technological wonders that will lead our “cow towns and cornfields” out of drudgery of obsolete paper books? What bastion of truth is hoisted up as the beacon of the new enlightenment emanating from the cornerstone of our community? What literary classic will herald the new Information Age – James Fenimore Cooper or the Federalist Papers or perhaps the Annals of the World? Sorry, not trendy enough. Instead the Dispatch article features a picture of Linda Uhler of the Westerville Library, with a big Gidget smile and a proud sparkle in her eye, holding up the latest addition to the Westerville Public Radio Shack – yes, it’s Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code!
Finally! We can all breathe a sigh of relief, as society cannot move forward without numerous copies this electronic book widely available for public listening. The Da Vinci Code of course has been a worldwide phenomenon, as this fast-paced thriller expertly dices apart thousands of years of accepted Christian theology by calling Jesus Christ a liar and venerating Mary Magdeline to goddess worship. We can all rest easy as our communities are wisely using our tax dollars to spread critical knowledge, advance the arts, and benefit society.
Meanwhile, dozens of Ohio libraries – those precious community cornerstones – routinely ban the use of public facilities for “religious activity”. This would include any meeting where prayer, singing, or other religious elements are practiced.
Of course, we can’t mix “state and religion” together. Unless of course you’re using taxpayer dollars to order electronic readers which trash the religion on which our nation was founded. Before the accusations fly about those wacky fundamentalist Christians screaming for censorship – time out, not the point. But let’s stop the nonsense that public libraries that propagate relativistic truth while denying religious meetings are the “cornerstones of our community”. After all, the word “cornerstone” in this context would be defined as the essential and in fact the indispensable foundation upon which to build a community. Such hyperbole may stroke the egos of those in the library profession or help pass tax levies, but communities could certainly function without taxpayer-financed libraries and their hip electronic toys.
Maybe it’s time to at least question the wisdom of attaching Da Vinci Code electronic readers to our property taxes. At most, maybe we should conjure up debate about whether or not running libraries is a legitimate function of civil government in the first place. Could these institutions not be nonprofit entities, financed by donations from the community and grants from businesses? That way the community could decide with its dollars whether or not to have the Satanic Bible on audio.