Personal Privilege - Some thoughts on New Year\'s Eve


Maurice J. (Mitch) Freedman writes: \"I just finished reading an article in today\'s New York Times about an Ohio State
University football player, a freshman, Maurice Clarett. There\'s
nothing per se about libraries in the article.

However, I was touched by the words of this 19-year old man, a couple of
days before he is to play for the NCAA football championship, and the
millions of dollars that will go to Ohio State University largely as a
result of his efforts this past season and tomorrow.

I urge you to read the whole article, but I will quote the last few
paragraphs, immediately below. These are important words as we go into
the New Year.

Libraries are losing budget battles. Our political leaders are turning
their backs not just on libraries, but the entire social safety net,
which includes libraries, certainly, but also the homeless, the
battered, the unemployed, those without health care, and on and on.

Our focus is upon libraries, but this young man from Youngstown, Ohio,
is telling me that library funding cuts are part of a much larger
problem. Our job is to promote libraries and library workers. But as
we enter the New Year, I think it is important to take stock of what is
going on around us and see the larger context--what are our nation\'s,
our state\'s, our counties\' and our cities\' priorities? I don\'t believe
that we are going to solve our library and library worker funding
problems without some consideration of those priorities and the funding
allocations ensuing from them.

Here is the conclusion of the article, and Maurice Clarett\'s words.

\"Life\'s a whole lot more important than football, you know what I mean?\"
he said. \"We hold the national championship, but they won\'t talk about
the homeless and the poor. We\'re sitting here in this old grand hotel,
things like that, but we can\'t feed the homeless or poor. It\'s a game.\"

Clarett\'s mother, Michelle, said she knew her son was upset but was not
sure how his request was handled by Ohio State or the sequence of

\"He\'s a 19-year-old young man with a lot going on right now,\" Michelle
Clarett, who is the chief deputy clerk for the municipal court in
Youngstown, said by telephone today. \"People deal with death differently
and this was one of his good friends.\"

Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel said Clarett had been emotionally roiled
since arriving here, but he repeated that no one prevented him from
returning home.

\"I know he\'s really distraught over losing a very, very close friend,\"
Tressel said. \"That\'s even harder when you\'re not around when you lose
someone that\'s very close to you. It\'s very difficult on you. I know
he\'d like to be there. The best thing for all involved is to say it
didn\'t work out.\"

Still, Clarett indicated that he learned a lesson from his anguish and
vowed to follow his compassion for the less fortunate with money should
he obtain it.

\"You go through downtown Columbus, you\'ve got people sleeping on
sidewalks,\" he said. \"You know what I mean? And they\'re giving us
scholarships, and they\'re selling 100,000 tickets every game. It\'s the
richest part of Columbus, downtown, but you\'re walking past bums and
homeless people. This is wintertime, it\'s like 19 degrees down there.
They\'re sleeping in boxes and little covers. It don\'t make any sense to

Maurice J. (Mitch) Freedman, MLS, PhD
President of the American Library Association

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