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Libraries Matter, No Matter What This New York Observer Columnist Says

I would have to agree! Watching New York Observer Columnist Andre Walker be publicly lambasted after tweeting about how “no adult” uses libraries anymore was definitely a bright spot of 2017. Libraries matter.

Back in October, Walker (in a since-deleted tweet) tweeted “I’m serious, what adults use libraries. Almost none.” He then seemed to double-down, putting his focus on librarians:

After what must have been a crap-ton of laughing from a lot of people at such ignorance, and ire at the elitist undertones overtones of his opinions, both library patrons and librarians alike rushed to educate Walker on the error of his statement.

“Dear (and I can’t believe I am saying this) all 110,000 people who replied to my tweet about libraries, Your sheer numbers have proved the point that libraries aren’t as unpopular as I believed this morning! Please stop replying!! Andre.”

The barrage of comments must have continued after that, because he did his best to deflect criticism both by retweeting articles from other outlets that were critical of his comments, and by promoting things like this:

Finally, he posted this, which is now his pinned tweet:

This is someone who retweets and praises Donald Trump on the regular, uses “leftist” as an insult, and considers Fox News an actual news outlet. Someone who regularly lambastes people on the left for not being able to handle “different opinions.” For someone who wants the world to be “safe” for differing opinions, he sure does have a hard time dealing with those who disagree with his point of view.

Now, having been on the receiving end of people on social media who won’t let up about a particular argument, I get that this borders on harassment, and I wish that, rather than trying to convince Walker of the importance of librariessomeone who is not in government and has zero say in how libraries are actually funded or supportedthe people who take issue with his statement put that same pressure on local and state governments to support their libraries and help them thrive.

I am an adult with a library card. Do I use it as often as I used to? No, I don’t. I buy a lot of the books I want, I use the Internet at home, and I go elsewhere for community activities. However, just because that’s true for me doesn’t mean I assume that this is the case for everyone. It used to not even be the case for me.

When I was younger, I couldn’t afford to buy all the books I wanted, and I didn’t have internet access at home. I depended on access at school (high school and college)…and at the library. To this day, I’m still grateful to all libraries for giving me the option to have free access to books (and knowledgeable librarians who can pair me with the right material), for giving me a place where I can have community space for organizing or workshops I might lead, or for simply providing a free, quiet place to work on my writing. Every town, every city, needs a decent public library.

Even though the entire concept of libraries still bores Walker to tears, because he can’t possibly imagine a world in which a person might not have access to everything a library offers on their own (those lazy, good-for-nothing poor people! How dare they!), I’m glad that he’s at least been forced to acknowledge that his view of the world is not nearly as “obvious” as he thought it was.

Live in the United States and want to support libraries? Visit the American Library Association for resources and suggestions! For those of you reading outside the U.S, please feel free to chime in in the comments below about what people can do to support libraries where you live!

(via the library haunter on Twitter, image: screencap)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former Mary Sue assistant editor from 2015-18. Teresa's returned to play in the TMS sandbox as a freelancer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.