Other Duties as Assigned

It's odd what jobs are landing in the laps of librarians these days.

March 7, 2018

Given the great dismantling of public institutions that we’ve been witnessing since Reagan told us government was the problem, librarians have been picking up new roles. Who else is going to?

Since there are very few public places where people can go without having to pay for the privilege, librarians are getting training on injecting NARCAN to revive people dying of overdoses. That’s worked so well, a “Lifesaving Librarians Act” has been introduced in Congress to pay for more NARCAN in public libraries. Aw, doesn't that sound great? Librarians as lifesavers in their spare time! We can’t do much about helping people out of poverty or having a coherent health system, but we can ask library workers to revive dying addicts. I mean, librarians already help people fill out government forms, search for work, learn to read, and bridge the digital divide (though what little federal funding there is for all that is on the chopping block).

And now school librarians – the few that haven’t been let go to save money – can step up, too. Apparently, the Parkland kids’ extremely cogent arguments for avoiding kids getting killed in schools regularly by people with easily-accessible military-grade weapons didn’t get through to the Florida legislature. Teachers, naturally, aren’t keen on being armed, though they are expected routinely to shield students with their bodies and practice being attacked just like my generation practiced for nuclear wars that fortunately didn’t actually happen every few weeks. The Florida governor is sensible enough that he doesn’t think it’s a terrifically safe idea to fill schools with guns, but since the politically correct solution to gun violence is more guns, librarians, counselors, and coaches can now be the good guys with guns to kill the bad people with the guns that don’t kill people in massive numbers in a matter of minutes.

We’re a service profession. We think working for the public good is a dandy idea. Saving lives? Sure, if we have to, we’ll do our best. But maybe as a nation we can do better than had a little cash to libraries and ask them to knit together the holes in the social net. We sure as hell don’t need to arm librarians just to avoid the wrath of the NRA.

Listen to the kids when they say “never again.” It doesn’t have to be this way. They're the future, and they're doing us proud

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