Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Photo: Bill Metcalfe

LETTER: Nelson library wants to control what we read and think

From reader Jerome Piguet

Re: Anti-racism at the Nelson library, Feb. 4

According to this article the library staff is wondering if books like Huckleberry Finn or Little House on the Prairie should be removed from the shelves because of their “racist” content.

In practice, that seems a little problematic: if you removed Huckleberry Finn from your shelves, you should in all fairness remove 95 per cent of all literature (there is nothing particularly deviant about Huckleberry Finn, it happens to be a book from the past that is still read today). Finding 10 race and gender “neutral” novels from that era would be a great challenge indeed. What is the idea here? To euphemize the past into oblivion?

Notwithstanding the problem arising from having little left to loan as a librarian, there also happens to be a greater issue with your project: it is, in essence, of a totalitarian bent.

By definition, the end goal of totalitarianism is not about telling people what to do (every society does that to some extent), but in controlling what people read and think: controlling the mind.

Whatever your end goals might be, however innocuous your project might sound, you deciding what people should not read inherently contains the germ of a would-be totalitarianism, which is both derisory and worrisome.

This being said, I am impressed by the grandiose nature of your ambitions for the Nelson library and can only commend you for the breadth of your vision. But I still feel the need to remind you that, again, as a librarian, your job should be to make sure books can be found. I personally prefer to figure out for myself if Little House on the Prairie is inappropriate, rather than having a patronizing librarian make that decision for me.

Jerome Piguet


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