SHUSHING POL­ICY

Geist - - Letters - —Richard, Maine —Row­land Lorimer, Vancouver

Stephen Henighan’s “Trea­son of the Li­brar­i­ans,” Geist 100, is an el­egy. Our town li­brary is a his­toric build­ing with nine­teenth-cen­tury wood­work; it housed a gen­uine six­teenth-cen­tury con­quis­ta­dor’s hel­met and chain mail shirt, which my chil­dren learned was a hauberk. The ar­mour used to be front and cen­tre but now has been stored away, con­sid­ered too old-fash­ioned for the new look of the li­brary. I fre­quent the book sales at our lo­cal li­brary be­cause they are get­ting rid of won­der­ful books. The epiphany Mr. Henighan de­scribes in find­ing a book next to the one you were search­ing for can also come with a mis-thumb­ing of the card cat­a­logue. The cards no longer ex­ist in any of our li­braries in east­ern Maine. At home we have a wall of books stacked two deep, and my now-grown chil­dren used to come from the li­brary with boxes of books. We can only do our best to keep the love of the book alive. It seems to me quite un­usual that Henighan would hide the name of the univer­sity li­brary whose ac­qui­si­tions poli­cies he crit­i­cizes (No.100). To do so pa­pers over the prac­tices and lets other li­braries know that they can get away with it with a mere slap on the wrist from cul­tural crit­ics. Stephen Henighan re­sponds: Like any jour­nal­ist, I re­serve the right to pro­tect my sources. If I re­vealed the univer­sity’s name, I would risk ex­pos­ing the peo­ple who pro­vided me with some of the de­tails in­cluded in the col­umn. Poli­cies at Dystopia U., while more ex­treme than at some other in­sti­tu­tions, are not ap­pre­cia­bly dif­fer­ent in their essence, mak­ing it easy to imag­ine a near fu­ture in which all univer­sity li­braries will be like the one I de­scribe.

Read Stephen Henighan’s “Trea­son of the Li­brar­i­ans” in Geist 100 or at geist.com.

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