This post was going to be a rant about ironic libraries but I just can’t do it. See what five minutes reflection will do for you? Instead I’ll try and embarrass myself, then rant a teensy bit and then try and engage you in conversation. So get ready to comment.
When I was a teenager I liked buying stupid books. Now a lot of teenagers buy stupid books when they’re buying books at all. They just have terrible taste. But the terrible books I bought as a teenager weren’t—for the most part—bought because I was tasteless. Nope, they were purchased, if I’m going to be embarrassingly honest, to make me feel superior. Yep, that’s buying books for irony’s sake. When people saw a Harlequin romance on my shelf or a management book on personal power and had a good laugh the comedic turn lay here, I was too good for those books. That’s the thing. I didn’t buy the books to make myself feel superior, I mean, consciously. In effect, however, that’s what I was doing. We can appreciate dumb books ironically because it makes us feel we’re not dumb.
Which brings me to my rant that won’t be a rant. If it doesn’t come across here, this makes me more sad than angry. I guess that’s a lament. Anyway, I recently had the misfortune of coming across a personal library that seemed to be almost given up to irony. Once, someone had collected these books with a definite purpose, mostly to entertain, to instruct somewhat, but through neglect irony, like a disease, had spread over it. Worse yet it was for children. I’ll tell you this, children don’t appreciate irony. They’re looking for a good story. Now, I may just be a sad old grump (or a twenty-nine year old grump) but it really drove me nuts to hear selections read from the library out loud to a group of college students as we all (me too) had a good laugh over the sorry state of the library. I confess my sins. But fix the stupid library already.
What do you think? In the case above the library was, as I noted, for children. I won’t say where the library was but I’m sure you’ve seen one like it before at a camp, or your church, or worse, a school. Shouldn’t they have something decent to read? Am I just an old grump? Did I mention I still have the Harlequin and copy of Power!?