Excluding Readers, Building Community

June 22nd, 2006 · 2 Comments
by Booksquare

Jill, thinking she’d get us worked up this morning, sent along a lovely story about a county that has cut the budget for Spanish-language fiction for adults. They will continue to fund children’s books and non-fiction, but not “pleasure reading” for the adults.

Because you know, when adults read for pleasure, there’s no telling what will happen. We have heard rumors that some adults who read fiction go on to become thinking, producing members of society. While we cannot get our hands on the study right now, we vaguely recall learning that fiction readers are often taxpayers just like non-fiction readers.

The library board’s motivation is clear enough — we don’t have to belabor this point. Okay, we will. We are doing a lousy job of teaching critical reading skills in this country and denying fiction to a group of readers (recall, if you can, that English is not easy for native readers either) is contributing to the problem. Cutting one-sixth of your population out of the reading pie is not helping society, but, hey, it’s a values thing:

In Gwinnett County, board member Dale Todd said her only objection to the Spanish-language books is that Harlequin romance novels are not of high enough literary value to put in a library. Instead, she said, the library should offer life-skills books to help immigrants make their way in America.

Yeah, ’cause allowing women to learn about empowerment and independence and family and faith and problem-solving and even American lifestyle won’t help with the life skills thing.

Library districts make tough budgetary decisions all the time, but we live in a fantasy world where the good of the community is considered, not the application of political maneuvers.

[tags]literacy, libraries[/tags]

File Under: Square Pegs

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