Sunday, December 11, 2005

Beth and Laura do not yet have internet access in their new house in Neptune Beach. The public library is across the street so Beth goes there to check her email when she is at home.

This week she went over there, checked in at the desk, was assigned a computer, and went to it and started her work.

A woman came over and made a scene, saying that Beth had taken her computer. Beth told her to check at the desk. A library worker came over and told the woman that if she left the computer it would sign her out after a certain length of time.

The incident was enough to disgust Beth. She says she has read that public libraries are predicted to go out of business.

I think this would be unfortunate. When I was growing up, I yearned to go to a library. There was none in Henderson.

When we went to visit relatives in Saltillo, Mississiippi, our route took us past the library in Corinth. I had fantasies of our car breaking down there. If that happened, I could go inside and see the library with all the wonderful books on shelves.

Maybe children now do not have those dreams, but I would hate for those that do not to have opportunities to go to a library.

Libraries are another casualty of the access movement. The old stereotype of the librarian making people hush has given way to the principle of open access.

The most important thing is to have libraries, schools, and everything else open to people of all behaviors. Certainly hushing library patrons is out. The library goer has all the rights. Porn on the library computer is a right of anyone. Any kind of behavior goes. To suppress it would be unfair.

This also applies to schools where access can not be denied no matter the behavior of the student.

An inevitable outcome of this is that people behave worse than they would have if they knew that standards were going to be enforced.

(Like many other things, I am happy to say that Henderson is behind the times. People at the library are very well behaved. And, at the Christmas season, the high school chorus sings Christmas carols at their Christmas concert.)

What are we to do?

I read an excellent column this week that said we need to bring back hats.

The columnist talked of walking the streets with his father, who would tip his hat to the women and put his hat over his heart when a funeral procession went by. He made a good case that hats civilize people.

I miss ladies' hats. When I was small, many people wore hats to church. Everyone wore one to First Sunday in May and everyone had a black hat because that was required to go to a funeral.

Now people wear shorts and tee shirts to visitation at the funeral home. Don't get me started on this.

I have threatened for years to start wearing hats. I need to do that to make a small contribution to recivilizing society.

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