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Don’t Just Read-Read Good Books December 25, 2006

Posted by heyheypaula in Library Stuff.

In the December issue of American Libraries, columnist David Isaacson writes that “Librarians ought to have the courage to say that some books aren’t woth reading at all.”  He advocates that librarians should not just read, but be well-read, and that “intellectual discrimination” should be a value.  How does this fit in with your libraries, or your vision of what a public library should be?  This would have been an interesting article to discuss in D. Raber’s Intellectual Freedom and its Discontents.  Who should be the judge of what is worthy versus unworthy?



1. lcwk86 - December 28, 2006

That goes right along with the “legitimate” library or computer use. If library is there only for the patron who wants “quality information”, then what about the patron who just wants entertainment or to get out of the house and visit with friends in the library? Some books may not be literary works of art, but if the patrons want to read them, we should be providing them.

2. heyheypaula - December 28, 2006

This was something that came up in class, but only with regards to YA materials. There were two different philosopies to YA materials: one that they should be only educational, and another that they should try to encompass YA interests, whether educational or not. But what is wrong with a teen reading for the sake of entertainment only, or using the Internet to search for information on video games? It seems that a balance can be struck. I read “good books” often, but what if I just want to read a novel that’s not deep, or go to the library to IM my friends when my power is out? We also have the problem of deciding who judges what’s “good” versus “not good”. I urge folks to read the entire opinion to explore some of these issues.

3. DrumPhil - January 2, 2007

As a consumer, I appreciate an expert who is willing to tell me honestly whether a certain product is junk. But it is still my decision whether to buy it. Choosing books is very subjective. I appreciate a librarian’s suggestions, but prefer to have my own final say about what I check out. Still, I think librarians should be prepared to give honest appraisals of material in (or conspicuously absent from) their collections. Well-read staff is one of the value libraries should have over mega-bookstores.

4. DrumPhil - January 3, 2007

See the recent Wall Street Journal editorial about exactly this question. Good stuff!

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