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A For-Profit Company Is Trying to Privatize as Many Public Libraries as They Can

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting – Janine Jackson interviewed librarian Caleb Nichols about defending public libraries for the December 17, 2021, episode of CounterSpin. [Caleb Nichols is a librarian as well as a writer, poet and musician, currently course reserves coordinator at Cal Poly/San Luis Obispo. His eye-opening article, “Public/Private Partnerships Are Quietly Hollowing Out Our Public Libraries,” was published recently on] “Even if we don’t see a written-out master plan, the banning of books, the attacks on teaching real US history, the efforts to push out professors with views that transgress official US policy: In their myriad forms, these actions tell us that it’s important to powerful people to restrict what ideas people can access. It’s the land of the free and the home of the brave—except if you want to know what’s happened, and happens, here, or to tell people about it. It all shows us the power of ideas. As infuriating and sad and enervating as it all is, it reminds us that knowledge is power. So if you are someone who wants to know about the world, and if you aren’t in a position to buy books to read, you might, as many of us did and do, go to the library. That’s the place where you don’t have to pay to sit down, you don’t have to buy a book or a coffee in order to read. Libraries aren’t just a meaningful reality, but also a meaningful symbol of the fact that there is a thing called the public interest, and it’s a thing that the state, that thing we’re all a part of, that we support with taxes—yes, even those of us who aren’t documented citizens, but human beings who work and contribute to others and pay taxes—have a say in. So it matters a great deal that this critical, loved public institution is under threat of usurpation, by the same folks who think that there should be nothing, nothing, that private-sector, profit-oriented rich people don’t own and control. Do you care about libraries that let anyone in and support anyone’s interest in learning? Well, then get ready to fight, because that space—that idea—is on the ropes…”

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