Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Virtual Dave….Real Blog.
I have never been to Ferguson. I have never been to the Ferguson Library. I love the Ferguson Library.
I read these right after re-reading my book Expect More for an upcoming project that starts with the Arab Spring and the modern Library of Alexandria being protected, and in essence reclaimed by protestors:
After the uprising had subsided, when President Mubarak had stepped down and the protestors were celebrating their victory around the country, not a window of the library had been broken, not a rock thrown against its walls. Why, in the midst of tearing down the regime, did the people of the nation protect the library?
My answer was that over the years the librarians had been a service to the community and become part of the community-not simply a service of a government that was seen as disconnected and corrupt. I go on to say the reason the library was not harmed was not because the librarians inside were exceptional, but rather that they did their job. Let me be clear, they were brave and brilliant, but to call them exceptional is to expect too little of every librarian. This was the bar, I argued, that librarians should strive towards.
When I tell this story to audiences and new students I often see some fear…”would I be expected to support a revolution or function in an uprising?” I make some passing joke and dismiss the problem.
Then the town of Ferguson exploded with a population at odds with a militarized police force. Then the schools were closed down. Then the right of assembly was suspended.
Then, the librarians of Ferguson did their job.
Then, as in Egypt, the librarians proved once again that a library is not a collection or a building, but a vital member of the community. Or, as the librarians of Ferguson put it much more eloquently: a library is family.
— Scott Bonner (@ScottyBonner) August 19, 2014
Librarians of Ferguson, thank you.
Professor Lankes’ book Expect More is available for free download here.