"Libraries need to mind their own business"

Douglas K dropped us a juicy one from The Globe and Mail of Toronto.

First, let's address the issue of promoting literature through "one book" and "votes for the best book" type events. Libraries, as oases of non-commercial activity in an age where all things, including books, have become mere cogs in the machine of capitalism, should step out of what is essentially book-industry marketing. At the library, if nowhere else, all books should be considered equal regardless of how much press an author is getting, or what awards are dispensed. If the public library can't stay out of the fame game, it becomes an adjunct to the book industry, and not a last bastion upholding our collective right to free access to information. Libraries should be facilitating the latter, not acting as taste arbiters.

This brings me to the second concern: libraries offering a truly strange array of services and programs. What do Taiwanese birds, bereavement counselling, starting a small business, and bedroom feng shui have to do with collecting and giving access to information? Send the birds to the natural-history museum; return counselling to the doctor's office and spiritual centres; let government employment centres advise aspiring small-business owners; and those interested in feng shui can sign up for (and pay for) a class.

Make sure to read the entire article. Niedzviecki makes some very interesting points.


I'm currently writing a conference presentation on this sort of topic, and the impact of commercialisation/popularisation and the desire to look and act like a bookstore.

OK -- I've read the whole article and am totally confused. Niedzviecki says we should stop getting into things that are non-traditional and commercially available, but then he applauds the Brazilian libraries that have radio broadcasts, galleries that patrons curate and showing of movies from the library's collection. How are those traditional services??? I'm confused and I truly believe the author of the article is more confused than me.