April 12, 2007

Eco's Librarians

Timothy Noah writes a column that jibes with my experiences:

My undying library memory from youth is that the prudish matron behind the checkout desk wouldn't let me take out books that weren't in the children's section, even after my mother told her that she'd given me permission to use her library card. To borrow the books I wanted (we're talking racy stuff like The Mouse That Roared), I had to get my mother to come down to the library and check them out herself. For many years thereafter, I disliked on sight every librarian I encountered.

Like everyone else, librarians are a mixed bag, but I can remember several -- public library, university library, newspaper library -- who believed that part of their job was to block access to information, rather than facillitate it. Perhaps that's why I found certain elements of The Name of the Rose so believable...

Posted by Ideofact at April 12, 2007 11:55 PM

That's not what happens nowadays. Librarians are being brainwashed in the other direction, told that there should be absolutely no limits to access to information, not even for children. There is a lot of debate about limiting access to internet porn. Seems to me there should be a happy medium somewhere.

Posted by: Alexandra at April 14, 2007 10:04 AM

Agreed--there is quite a bit of sentiment in that direction.

I'm thinking more, though, in terms of getting hold of what's on the shelves, and getting access to the tools that allow one to figure out what's on the shelves.

While uninhibited searching of the World Wide Web is encouraged, some librarians (and I should emphasize that I'm talking about a very few, by no means all) seem to take pleasure in making access to the indexes of, say, federal documents and databases a real chore...

Posted by: Bill at April 14, 2007 06:33 PM