Libraries: The Great Whores of the Literary World

Once upon a time, there used to be sanctuaries of silence called “libraries”

There used to be a sanctuary to which you could retire for that most blessed and peaceful of soul satisfying balms — silence. This sanctuary was known as the ‘library,’ and throughout the world they could be considered a trustworthy and guarded haven for this treasure of peace whether it be in Bangladesh or the heart of Manhattan.

librariesThere, entities known as “librarians” would covet and protect this precious jewel of quietude against all assailants be they obnoxious brats, overheated fine payers or homeless wrecks. They were heroes of another sort, much as monks of a divine order whose task was to protect the sacred rites of antiquity.

But, alas, those times and attitudes have changed. Now these once great institutions housed still in their grand buildings are now tragically defiled and the nest bitterly fouled. Most of those who now find refuge under their vaulted ceilings and thick walls are birds entirely of another feather. Few now are the scholars and readers of old, come to quaff their sustenance of knowledge from the bookish pools that could be found here, many having died away over the years, others intimidated by the brash rudeness and lack of couth had by most of the barbarians that have forced themselves through its gates.

In the days of yore the libraries were citadels for those clamoring for knowledge, for those whose thirst for knowing and wisdom would drive them to these halls of intellect from whose journals with their myriad of pages could reveal the wonders of our world and others within their bindings. Now just about everyone in these halls of learning is infested by the lice of Internet addicts surfing for that beyond which their own feeble imaginations can conjure. Janet at machine #1 is listening to Lady Gaga‘s latest ode at a decibel level that the man at machine #4 three seats away can hear while he is trying to concentrate on researching his Master’s thesis. The homeless guy at machine 6 is eating up the band width downloading a grade Z Kung Fu movie to watch until the library closes. The women at machines 9 and 10 are playing solitaire and the stinky young teen at 12 is playing a free violent game without any head phones and tells anyone asking him to turn them down to f#$& off.

Mean while in the quiet area two recent high school dropouts are having a loud chat about subjects their parents would never have imagined. Two Hispanic kids run around at a tear while their mother looks at the Spanish language People magazine. Another twenty something is yelling to his friend through the window. A guy with a loud voice is chatting with his girlfriend in excited tones on his cell phone. Such a wonderful environment to study in!

Have you ever been in a library where the librarian herself talks in a loud voice? There are many.

Here is a real experience that I had- I was myself using a computer in a university library (quietly, of course) when I noticed that the guy next to me was watching pornography. Anybody walking by his computer could see what he was looking at. I reported this to the student working behind the check out desk and she said she would let the staff librarian know about it. A few minutes later a wet-behind-the-ears ‘manager’ with the incredible experiential age of roughly 21 came up and let me know what a bad person I was for having reported it. With an air of impeccable superiority she let me that it was library policy to let anyone watch any pornography or anything else that they wanted to (this is an a town known for its rape problems by the way). Just in case you are curious which university this is it is the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Hey, U of A! Sue me if you don’t like me writing this!

Another experience- I was in the Aspen Colorado Public Library photocopying something when I could hear a man answering his cell phone and carrying on a conversation in a loud voice on the open second floor that could be heard throughout the library. I waited a few moments to see if the staff would do anything about it. When they did not reply I bolted up the stairs (and this despite that I had a cast on my foot from a broken ankle at the time) and asked him politely but straightly if he could talk quieter. As I was headed back down I could hear him say that “he would have to talk later; some a**hole had asked him to not talk.” Somehow I think a lot of Aspeners have to get their priorities straight on just what constitutes being an asshole. Include Jack Nicholson in that category.

Libraries used to be trusted institutions with integrity. Now they are mostly busted prostitutions without fidelity.