In case you missed it, the Telegram reported that Carolann MacMaster, the new library director at the Uxbridge Free Public Library had to justify the need for a fire escape (to make the third floor more accessible) and, indeed, the existence of fiction.
The primary opponent seems to have been selectman Peter Baghdasarian, who said, “If you think about it, why do people go to libraries? They want to get a bestseller and they don’t want to pay for it.”
The Telegram reported that “Mr. Baghdasarian said libraries were intended for education but now, he claimed, they were primarily for entertainment; he said 75 percent of the circulation was fiction. He also said there used to be a rule that one had to check out two nonfiction books for every fictional work.”
Despite what Mr. Baghdasarian thinks, people go to the library to do genealogical research, to assist with job searches, to learn English or another language, to read periodicals and become better-informed citizens, and — gasp! — to be entertained.
Library directors should not be in the position to defend fiction, which has been acknowledged by most humans as something worth reading for at least four thousand years. But I’m very glad Ms. MacMaster defended not only the right of people to read fiction (!) but the concept of the public library. Thank you! People of Uxbridge, you have got yourselves a gem!
MassLive has many gift-that-keeps-on-giving quotes, including:
Personally, Baghdasarian said his home library has more than 4,000 books, many of which were purchased from libraries clearing their shelves of little-used titles. He doesn’t have much use for fiction, though.
“Napoleon is always Napoleon, but in a fiction book the names are all different, so I can’t retain them,” he said.
Imagine: a library of thousands of books, all about Napoleon. A girl can dream!
T&G commenter TFW put it best:
“I remember when libraries only carried nonfiction books,” said Peter Baghdasarian who is 4000 years old and originally hails from Sumeria. “Ever since Gilgamesh was chiseled, education has gone downhill.”
He then continued, “And don’t get me started on this ‘paper’ business.”