By Fred Small, Author of Everything Possible
From the moment I learned to read, I’ve loved libraries.
For me, as for many, my neighborhood public library has always been holy ground, a secular sanctuary, a source of security and refuge.
When I was a child, the ancient wooden card catalogs, weighty bound copies of Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature, and gigantic microfilm readers beckoned me into unknown worlds. (Rotating that microfilm crank by hand was like accelerating down a steep hill on my bicycle, my heart pumping, the wind in my hair—oops, I overshot the page I was looking for! Back up! Back up!)
While the technology of libraries has evolved, their mission of public service remains the same: to encourage reading, to be a reliable source of information, to open the mind and heart to new horizons.
Who could have imagined that this mission would become controversial in the United States of America?
In today’s war on truth, librarians are easy targets. They endure obscene and often misogynistic abuse, doxing, death threats, and termination.
For doing their job.
For acknowledging and representing the reality of LGBTQ existence, librarians are denounced as “groomers”—child abusers!—when they’re actually protecting children, sometimes literally saving their lives, from the abuse of ignorance and bigotry.
The demonization of librarians is appalling. It’s horrifying. It’s infuriating.
Librarians didn’t sign up for public vilification. They became librarians to share their love of reading, their passion for research, and their dedication to the public good.
Who could blame them if they became discouraged or demoralized or simply exhausted by the vitriol? If they chose to resign one step ahead of the pitchforks-and-torches mob?
It’s so wrong. It’s so unfair.
It breaks my heart.
So, I want every librarian to know:
WE LOVE YOU!
We see you. We admire you. We care about you. We support you.
You are the patriots—not the censors, the shouters, the book-banners.
By the ordinary things you do day in and day out, you keep alive the sacred flame of truth, verifiable information, and intellectual, emotional, and spiritual exploration.
While some want to privatize everything from schools to drinking water, you steward a free public resource open to all without discrimination.
While some traffic in disinformation and bizarre conspiracy theories, you teach research skills that lead to facts.
While some demand to dictate the cultural, political, and religious messages available to young people, you open the world to them.
This makes you dangerous to some—and heroes to me.
If you’re a librarian, thank you for all you do.
If you’re not a librarian, why not thank the next one you meet?
And the one after that.
And the one after that.
It’s easy, really. You go into a library, find the nearest librarian, and say something like this:
“I just want to thank you for being a librarian and for all the good you do in the world. I know it can be hard these days. You’re facing pressures unheard of in years past. Being a librarian takes courage and fortitude. I just want you to know how much I appreciate you.”
It might make their day. Or their year.
It might lift their spirits at just the moment they were flagging.
If librarians are under attack in your community, defend them.
Shield them from slander and harassment. Honor them as guardians of literacy and the freedom of speech, thought, and inquiry essential to democracy. Surround them with love.
Librarians, we love you. We need you. We thank you.
Fred Small is the author of Everything Possible. He is a singer-songwriter, activist and Unitarian Universalist minister. He originally trained as a lawyer but left his job to pursue a career in music. In 1983, Fred wrote his classic song “Everything Possible”. Recorded and made famous by the iconic gay male a cappella group the Flirtations, the song has travelled around the world. Fred is a passionate advocate for equality, inclusion and environmental justice. He and his family live near Boston in the USA.