Q & A: morality for the end of an era

Q:  The library at my alma mater (in Canada) tosses an unknown number of books and journals into dumpsters in the middle of the night and tells nobody.  The library at my new school (in America) sends out a letter to the faculty announcing that they will be tossing 22% of their holdings into dumpsters (though they will try first to give some away to prison libraries.)  Which is better?

A:  The head of the Canadian library displays shame.  He knows what he’s doing is wrong — at any rate, he knows that everyone around him will see it as wrong.  He thus positions himself correctly on the side of evil.  The head of the U.S. library thinks that as long as you move through the proper channels, wring your hands a bit, and say you have no choice, any act can be defined as morally legitimate and performed above-board.  His actions are substantially more sinister.


4 thoughts on “Q & A: morality for the end of an era

  1. Add to that the fact that he planned to inform faculty *after* graduation — i.e., once we’d all stopped paying attention to things — despite the insistence of the faculty on the library council that we not only be informed of but included in the process.

    Sinister, but also cruel: in Canada, all faculty and students could do was feel outraged and harmed. Here, we feel outraged and harmed *and* as though there should be/should have been something we could do.

  2. Will the list of books trashed be released to the public?

    (Maybe I should have just gone to prison if I wanted an education!)

  3. Not to the public. But apparently lists will be released to us, and (I hope) we can claim the material we want. I will try to acquire all the books and journals in my area — and anything good outside my area that remains unclaimed by others — and I’ll find a way to make them available to students.

    Maybe all the books will find their way into professors offices. It’s like stepping back to a time when all books were in private collections, and there was no such thing as a public library.

  4. I’m surprised and dismayed that there will be books in your area. Given that it’s science and technology libraries that are being closed, I had hoped to hear only truly obsolete texts (dead computer languages, century-old uranium surveys, dodo preservation agitprop, etc.) would be dropped…

    Oh well, good luck preserving the undervalued gems. ;)

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