In these days of reconciling with dark pasts, and hate- one idea sprung from the corners of the internet called "library censorship." Alas, my heart recoiled in indignation because while I understand the need to seriously reconsider things we have displayed in the public squares, I believe this well intentioned person does not understand the purpose of a library.
Libraries are sanctuaries of knowledge, and by saying that I mean all knowledge. The Library of Congress, the grandest library in the world boasts millions of books in every language and from every nation. To agree with every book in a collection would be impossible! In my own "santuario" I have books from Rousseau, Voltaire, Marx, Aquinas, Augustine and Locke- clearly they all would disagree amongst themselves.
Oh gentle reader- another concern is that of academics studying unpleasant topics. On subjects ranging from genocide to slavery, there were sadly arguments holding them up. In libraries you can access the primary sources without worrying about buying books to expose the manipulation such people used in their arguments. For example, a professor is writing about the origins of the Holocaust- one of the most horrific events in human history. What better place for him to go than the library? There he can access sources from that time and see what was being argued and the propaganda that surrounded it. Clearly the event is not being glorified- it was a tragedy and should arouse indignation in the hearts of all citizens of the world. These papers are stored in archives so we know "never again." They are to be accessed by the academic who is using them to write about what happened, and to argue against all holocaust deniers out there. If a professor or student cannot access these books, extremists who promote these ideas can twist the words to mean whatever they want and hold sway over an ignorant population.
A library exists to host knowledge, and to be a storehouse. It is in the library where you can access Marx's Communist Manifesto and compare it with Gulag Archipelago. It is in the library where I can request to see a copy of De Maistre's horrific writings which condoned oppression of religious minorities and use them as a source in my paper defending the rights of religious minorities so I can expose the words of those who believed other wise.
On a different scale, it is where the reality of historical events is on full display. Whether it is a memoir from a slave, or a collection of letters from a political prisoner in the Spanish Empire whose only crime was owning "illegal books"- all is displayed in the library. The moment we make something scarce, that is the moment when people will want to read and access those materials even more. Censorship only will add fuel to the fire of those who are promoting horrific ideas and prohibit honest scholars from quoting De Maistre to reveal what he actually said.
In a library it is a neutral space to access all knowledge, and it would be very dishonest to say that only good happened in history- discuss the ugly as well but never glorify it, expose it as you step into the truth.
Forever I shall stand for open and free education for all, and I bid you farewell for now my dear reader- but this has been my Wednesday wisdom in this little Bagatela!