For the Children: A Rant

You know what I hate? When people argue something is wrong with the library/school/any public space children frequent, but they’re only bringing it up (concerned face) out of concern for THE CHILDREN.


It goes something like this (with my commentary in the footnotes):


“I read somewhere (1) that X is bad for kids. And I think it’s pretty clear (2) that X is going to lead to Y. So I don’t want kids doing X, and lots of other people (3) agree with me. So you should change the collection/layout/schedule/rules (4) of the library/school/etc. so that kids aren’t damaged by X.”


(1) “…in a news source that I read because it reinforces my own views”

(2) Inner debate club cheerleader: If I say something is ‘pretty clear,’ you seem irrational not to agree with me, even if I’m being hyperbolic, reductionist, or using a straw man argument.

(3) “…whom I’m friends with because we share values like THE CHILDREN”

(4) “…because it’s totally rational to expect any old library employee to be able to snap their fingers and change things into the library of my dreams” (5)

(5) If we could snap our fingers and have the library of OUR dreams? Obviously we would do that. Is this library perfect? No? Ergo…


Sometimes, I have the sneaking suspicion (6) that arguments like these aren’t really about the children at all. They’re about being right. And I think it is a huge mondo problem that we all want to be right all the time, instead of having thoughtful discussions in which all parties listen; all parties learn; and all parties grow. What happened to actual discourse, y’all?


Yes, let’s do things for the children.


And yes, let’s challenge the status quo and how things are done.


But for Pete’s sake (7), can we take a rational tone and be open to actual back-and-forth discussion? And the fact that maybe not all taxpayers share your exact same values (8)? And maybe take some time to do a bit of research (9), then reconvene and figure out what’s best and how to move forward realistically?


LIBRARIES CARE ABOUT THE CHILDREN, TOO. We are not just making decisions and buying stuff because we think it’s cool or shiny. We are doing everything we possibly can to give children the best experiences and advantages with the knowledge, resources, and mission that we have. We want to hear your input. But for this relationship to really work, you have to want to hear ours, too.


(6) sarcasm

(7) and Sophie’s, and Aiden’s, and Asa’s, and Samir’s, and Claire’s, and Zia’s, etc.

(8) or are privileged (10) enough they they can choose to utilize only specific library services because they have access to books/computers/science camps elsewhere

(9) actual research

(10) and, frankly, the fact that you’ve got time to a) come to the library once and see something you don’t like, b) go home and find a blog or online article that agrees with you, c) email your friends for support, and d) come back to complain probably denotes a fair amount of privilege to begin with


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