On Saturday, a drug-addled man at the Anchorage Loussac Library was observed overdosed on heroin in the first-floor bathroom. He had pills and marijuana in his pockets, and his feet were bare and bleeding. An ambulance took him away.
That bathroom is the same one used by four-year-olds on their way upstairs to check out a book at the city’s largest library.
This is not an uncommon occurrence in city libraries these days. The same places that are comfortable and semi-private places for studying and reading are also comfy corners for people to shoot up.
Libraries have morphed into day shelters for drug addicts, homeless, and mentally ill people, and increasingly they are not places where children can go to learn to read. The mission has drifted badly as libraries are dual purpose druggie hangouts and book dispensaries.
It’s in this environment that Sami Graham has emerged as the kindly leader to help steer the Anchorage Public Libraries in a new direction. After all, Mayor Dave Bronson was elected to take the city in a “new direction,” according to his campaign slogan. Why not start with the headquarters for Drag Queen Story Hour?
But Graham, the mayor’s nominee to run Anchorage Public Libraries, is running into a wall of protest from the professional librarian syndicate. The “professional librarians” are petrified that if someone without a library science degree is chosen to run the libraries, their control, and their gate-keeping over these important and well-paying jobs will be diminished. Fifty of them have sent letters to the Anchorage Assembly saying Graham must not be confirmed under any circumstance. It’s going to be a fight between the librarian cartel and the rest of us.
Graham doesn’t have a master’s degree in library science, they argue, and that’s clearly a part of the job requirement. She has two other masters degrees — one in educational leadership and one in counseling, which could come in handy with the current clientele these days. But no master’s in the “science” of libraries.
Graham, a retired school principal, has managed libraries, librarians, buildings, staff, and crises in that role. She has taught reading to all ages. She is a counselor.
But as the nominee to run the Anchorage Public Libraries, she faces opposition from what has become a library mafia — the American Library Association and its local representatives. If Graham’s name was Barack Obama, these librarians would probably let it go, because, according to the data, librarians are almost exclusively registered Democrats.
The ALA is leading in the culture wars on America, condoning such events as Drag Queen Story Hour in children’s libraries and allowing porn to be distributed on publicly funded computers, visible and audible to those in the vicinity. There is hardly a library management in America that doesn’t require successful applicants to be indoctrinated and educated into the group-think by those already in the library field.
If they let Graham be the librarian, it’s the end of the need for the library science degree. For them, it’s equivalent to letting lawyers practice without law school and the bar exam. They see themselves as certified professionals, like civil engineers or medical doctors.
Libraries have changed over the past half century. They were once places for families with children, but increasingly are warming shelters or, in hot climates, cooling shelters for the mentally ill or strung out.
Librarians now manage not only books, but movies, internet, computers, access to research materials, micro-fiche, and ensuring their operations are safe. Few of them see their job as helping children develop a love of reading. They are running what has become essentially a content retail outlet — books and material going in and going out.
Increasingly, parents don’t trust those staffing urban libraries to look out for the values of families or to provide for their safety, with a growing presence of mentally ill and drug addicts leaving needles in the restrooms or in the stacks.
There are solutions, such as creating stand-alone libraries for children and their parents, but these are expensive. Librarians can also trespass people off the property and stop providing social services, or create a very separate place that is just for adults to do what some adults want to do.
Will the syndicate of librarians and the wretched results they’ve allowed to be normalized be broken? Or will the Anchorage Assembly say no to Graham, allow libraries to continue their fast decline, as they put the interests of the radical left above the interests of Anchorage children?
Suzanne Downing is publisher of Must Read Alaska and Must Read America.