“Visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far.”
That’s the first takeaway of a Gallup poll on leisure and entertainment habits in this country, the first since 2001, when library visits were also the most common. Since then, outings to museums, live music/theater shows and national parks have ticked upward, while trips to the movies actually trended down. (As in all things, that’s probably the fault of millennials.) Through it all — social media, smartphones, e-readers and the like — libraries stayed strong: the average American patronized one 10.5 times in the last year.
All of that sounds great. We’re saving money by skipping blockbusters and spending more time on the social, educational and outdoorsy parts of life. Best of all, we’re taking full advantage of the library system, which no one could possibly be mad about. Right?
Ah, what was I thinking. Of course Fabio hates the library! Or, at the very least, he imagines that it’s been overrun by… horny, drugged-up rock musicians. I guess his beef is not so much with libraries per se — after all, they hold priceless collections of the romance novels where he’s posing shirtless on the cover — but the fact that just anyone, anyone is allowed inside to check out some books and periodicals, use the internet and restrooms, or simply exist in a quiet public space without getting hassled.
But I don’t get why Fabio would have a problem with those people doing their thing; he’s got a perfectly nice mansion to hole up in. He should be more focused on buying a decent safe so burglars can’t steal $200,000 worth of his “watches and gold coins.”
Speaking of money, there’s a great subset of libertarian wankers who, when asked whether libraries are a necessary public service, are mainly concerned with the cost of keeping them open. Fellas, is it gay to have your tax dollars pay for encyclopedias? Isn’t this Dewey Decimal character fleecing us here?
Eh, either way, can’t let Big Government control us with open access to information. Same reason you don’t want schools, roads, the Centers for Disease Control, etc. — better to live in a derelict cabin on a pile of your hard-earned money than rely on a grid of electricity or running water. Yet this goes deeper than a question of price, or federal overreach. Even the libertarian bros who are theoretically fine with librarians call them “punk-ass book jockeys.” What?!?!
But wait, we haven’t gotten to the true galaxy brain boys:
Ah, that’s the dank stuff. Griping from the politicians and pundits who decided somewhere along the line that human civilization has progressed beyond the need for libraries. Like our previous anti-library critics, they haven’t set foot in such an establishment since their school days (if indeed they ever did back then). To these pinheads, however, funding concerns are less relevant than the delusion that the Almighty Digital Cloud™ serves any and every function a physical archive might. Surely tech giants can preserve the essential volumes. And obviously they wouldn’t choose to throttle or censor the content we’d like to read! Besides, the obsolescence of libraries is evident from their unpopularity. These places are sitting empty, collecting dust. Look: if I, the smartest person alive, never enter a specific type of building, then nobody else does, either.
In the end, it comes full circle to the Fabio argument: Men get mad at libraries because they represent the liberal values of inclusivity and illumination. It’s no different than attacks on PBS and NPR. Some alt-right hack like Steven Crowder is no more likely to check out the Kansas University libraries than Fabio is to encounter an orgy in a downtown L.A. library — both are too scared of accidentally touching Das Kapital — but he is simply aghast that this repository of texts has a forward-leaning approach to [checks notes] pronouns. Damn, this guy’s going to be pissed when he hears about language.
By the way, the libertarians and technocrat dweebs can pretend they don’t harbor the same hatred for the poor and other marginalized groups finding safety and fulfillment in libraries; pretending, however, is all it is. The Gallup poll that showed how crucial the library remains to American life also found that young adults and members of low-income households were the most frequent customers, while women visited libraries nearly twice as often as men do.
It’s almost as if, and bear with me here, shitty men subconsciously understand that people other than themselves are enjoying the library — and that’s not fair! Why should they have this resource that he studiously avoids, according to bizarre and unfounded principle? Bulldoze the lot of them, before the next teenager discovers Joan Didion. There’s nothing to learn at your local branch that hasn’t been summarized better in a racist meme, so let’s move on.
I truly can’t believe we’re still having this conversation.