Okay, I'm a touch political. Not political enough to volunteer for a campaign or join a protest, but I read up on politics voraciously, especially in an election year. And I always vote. (I think it's a waste of our civil liberties that people don't vote.)
So, it's an election year and I'm trying to read every new political book on the market. As you may have noticed, I'm currently reading Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward. Woodward is one of my personal heroes. Ten years of journalism will do that for you. Seriously, his professional ethics paralleled with his clear and concise writing style makes him a standout in the profession. And then you add on his list of accomplishments. All the President's Men is another fascinating read.
Enough raving about Woodward. I picked up Plan of Attack from the library. I love our library. My local library is the Harold Washington Branch of the Chicago Public Library. I cried the first time I was in it because it was the first time I was in a building fit for a library. I know, sentimental. I'm a bibliophile. Even my father in law, who is an architect, thinks this is a beautiful building. It's housed in brick with these cool green gargoyles guarding the sides. If you want to read more about the building history, click here.
So, I checked out Plan of Attack. I'm the first person to borrow this copy. It's a nice looking book. A book obviously about current events. Simon & Schuster, the publisher, was even nice enough to print "Current Events" on the back jacket. The Chicago Public Library didn't think so. The book is based on "interviews with 75 key participants" (according to Simon & Schuster's own website), and is discussed by White House Chief of Staff Andy Card on the White House website. I heard it was on the White House's official non fiction reading list, but I couldn't find their reading list anywhere on the site. Anyway, this book is definitely about current events. The Chicago Public Library labeled it "Historical Fiction."
I feel this does library patrons a disservice. I come to the library because I want to expand my horizons. I plan on reading Who's Looking Out For You by Bill O'Reilly. I like to decide what the facts are for myself. I do not want the library making political decisions about books. I expect the library to present me with a vast array of books, hopefully more books than I can read in my lifetime.
You might say that I need to calm down. It's just a label, right? It shouldn't be that big of a deal. I disagree. It'll be shelved in fiction or literature. It won't be shelved with all of the other current event books. This is an annoyance now, but as time buries the specific political arguments, this book is going to be shelved incorrectly. Students doing research about the early 00s (I hate our new decade name) will miss this perspective of our time. It won't be pulled up on subject searches. It will be entirely overlooked. Simply because someone in the library classification system decided to make a political statement.
I'm not arguing this is the best book in the world. (Frankly, I'm a few chapters in and it's a little dry.) That's not the point. The library has a myriad of badly written and simply awful books. I'm arguing that the library shouldn't classify books outside of their published genre. Don't make a political decision about a book that affects me. Just give me my book, thank you very much.
I took matters into my own hands. I tore the sticker off. I've never defaced any kind of book in my life. I was hesitant to highlight college textbooks. But, I had to do something.
I'm also writing two letters. One to put into the book for the next person. Make sure to tear the sticker off, I did. It says historical fiction. Don't you want to evaluate the book on its own merits? I'll ask. If there's a historical fiction label, tear it off, too.
The second letter is to the library. I'm going to lobby that they change this book's classification. Let the readers decide for themselves whether or not it's political bunk. Put it on the shelf next to all the other books about politics.
Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward. Page 57.
Casanova: The Man Who Really Loved Women, Lydia Flem. Page 121.