Friday, September 25, 2015

Making Our Library Work -- The Socialism Episode

When you look up Bernie Sanders in the Charleston County Public Library catalog, there are three entries:  in one 2013 book, he is noted because he wrote the preface, the second comes up in a book about Charleston because there is an entry by a writer named "Bernie" and another by a writer named "Sanders," and the third is a DVD that includes a first name of "Bernice" and a last name of "Saunders" (not the same person).

When you look up socialism, you will find a few books that haven't been tossed yet that go back as far as 1969, and then the results get grim.  The titles that come up include:  The Politically Incorrect Guide to SocialismHeaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism (which Wikipedia entry states "The book has been accused of factual errors and right-wing bias"); and (I'm looking for an adjective but words fail me) Jim DeMint's Saving Freedom: We Can Stop America's Slide into Socialism.  Oh, and then there are those anti-Obama tomes:  Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism.  "Tyranny of socialism," "rampant socialism," German dictatorship and national socialism.

It is not surprising that idiots like Jim DeMint get heavily represented.  That's what a lot of people here in SC want to read, fact free political drivel.  But it is a shame that the quality of our library's collection is so poor when it comes to representing views other than right wing-nut fear and conspiracy theories.

With an actual socialist running for president, it is critical that we patrons of our library system let them know they need to fill in those gaping holes.

Each of us can go in to our local branch, or call the Main Branch (ask for the Collections Department and tell them you want to make a request for purchase).  If you really want to educate this very nice bunch of people, you can explain to them that the library has no books on Bernie Sanders and that socialism is totally misrepresented, and that the only books that are accurate are extremely outdated.

And here are some specific recommendations you can make:

The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America, by Jonathan Tasini, just published on 9/8/15.

The Speech: A Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class, first published in 2011 but reprinted as recently as 2015.

Outsider in the White House, by Bernie Sanders, to be published on October 27.

My guess is that without hearing from many of us, the library might purchase one copy of each of the books (or not).  These books should be on the shelf of every branch of our library system, just the way books by Donald Trump would be.  The only way to convince CCPL of this is by overwhelming them with requests.

New books are beginning to come out about socialism as well, including:

Socialism... Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation, by Danny Katch, that sounds perfect for those (like me) that don't want a dense read but something with practical information.  That is just out, and I will be making my purchase request next time I go into my Johns Island branch.

By the way, A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn, reissued in 2005, a book that should be read by every history student in the country, includes a chapter called "Socialism."  But our library no longer has any copies.  So you might want to tell our collections department that this is a gap that should be filled.  They might tell you that they only order books that are less than a year old, but that is not true for classics, extremely popular, and important books.  If they insist, tell them to order some good new books on socialism.  Or complain to the board.  Or the Post & Courier.

We can't get someone with new ideas elected if the old guard won't let them be heard.  If curious people look up Bernie Sanders and don't find anything about him, or look up socialism and find books on Hitler, we lose our chance to make some real change.

But I guarantee that if enough of us communicate this need to our library, they will respond.

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