Brace yourself for what’s coming to American libraries

The venerable American Library Association (“ALA”), formed in 1876, is another American institution that’s abandoning the pretense of being a neutral organization dedicated only to ensuring that American libraries remain welcoming places that pass on the knowledge of the ages and provide a safe intellectual haven for America’s youth. That’s because the ALA just elected an open Marxist to be its next president.

In 1731, Benjamin Franklin and his Junto Club (a club of tradesmen coming together for intellectual improvement) founded the first lending library in America, the Library Company of Philadelphia, at a time when few people had easy or affordable access to books. The men shared books with each other but it was a cumbersome system. They decided to pool their money and create a single repository of books from which all could draw.

Very soon, Franklin was able to boast that the original library, and the copies it spawned,

[H]ave improved the general Conversation of Americans, made the common Tradesmen and Farmers as intelligent as most Gentlemen from other Countries, and perhaps have contributed in some Degree to the Stand so generally made throughout the Colonies in Defence of their Priviledges.

Suddenly, because 90% of the books were in English, not Latin or Greek, ordinary people, not just the gentry, could read novels, history, travel books and, of course, books about science, mathematics, engineering, and other practical endeavors. Civic improvement meant raising each person’s level of knowledge and competence so that ordinary men could understand their rights as Englishmen, rights founded in liberty.

Image: Emily Drabinski. YouTube screen grab.

Things are different now. On April 13, the ALA held its election for president. The winner, who will take over the ALA in July 2023, is Emily Drabinski, who describes herself as a “Marxist lesbian.” According to her bio, unlike Franklin, she doesn’t view libraries as an aggregation of knowledge for the improvement of individuals. Instead, libraries are meant to create mass movements for the “public good”:

I believe in building worker power as a means of transforming our workplaces, communities, and ourselves. I am running for president of the American Library Association because I believe our institutions—school, public, academic, and special libraries—are fundamental infrastructures of the public good. This crucial moment calls for leadership that understands the importance of mass movements for restoring and expanding investments in us. We must help our publics understand the connections between our daily practices of selection, acquisition, description, circulation, and preservation of information to broader movements for a more just society.

In her platform, which convinced enough ALA members to hand her a victory, Drabinksi is very clear about the role libraries should play in America and it’s not about improving each individual:

Equity as action.

Social and economic justice and racial equity requires that we make a material difference in the lives of library workers and patrons who have for too long been denied power and opportunity on the basis of race, gender, sexuality, national origin, spoken language, and disability. As ALA president, I will direct resources and opportunities to a diverse cross section of the association and advance a public agenda that puts organizing for justice at the center of library work.

Other operating believe systems are the “green new deal,” fighting against “the dominance of North American and European publishers and vendors that restrict access and audience for readers and researchers around the world,” fighting against “corporate control of core library functions” (which isn’t a bad idea except that she wants to replace big corporations with big government), and “collective organizing for collective power.”

Drabinksi’s tweets and retweets provide more insight into her values, which are firmly on the left, encompassing everything from old-fashioned union organizing to new-fashioned environmentalism and social wokism:

When I was a little girl, I would head to the nearby public libraries after school let out and my mother would pick me up there an hour or two later. She’d know that I was happily reading wholesome children’s books, everything from history to autobiographies to novels. (I never did hit the science books.) Nowadays, though, if I had young children, I’d be worried that time spent in the public library would see them being indoctrinated in Marxism and gender madness, with a little pornography on the side.

Oh, one more thing: Drabinski ends her platform with this rather ominous phrase: “Remember: there are more of us than there are of them, especially when we work together.” I think she’s talking about you and me.

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