We're not afraid to admit it. We love librarians around here. We love them in all shapes and sizes, whether they're stationed at the neighborhood public library, or in a school. Whether they preside over a special collection at a leading medical institution or at a world-renowned museum. You can have your starlets, actresses and supermodels. But we prefer to fantasize about those wondrous creatures and most dedicated of public servants who have lovingly fed our hungry minds and stoked our imaginations. They're sometimes caricatured in our shamelessly anti-intellectual culture as nervous nellies or worse, and many people probably lazily imagine that with the Internet, their jobs will slowly melt away (hardly). Instead, their role is changing but remains no less crucial. For me, they remain uniquely qualifed (along with the winnowing cohort of those who own, manage and work in independent bookstores) to lead people to a lifetime of intellectual growth. And my friend Christine, a former librarian, has often gently reminded me of their special role in doing so for young adults.
Four years ago, in writing about the badly mis-named Patriot Act, we noted librarians' heroic resistance to this most anti-democratic of statutes. "The Congress got stampeded into very nearly repealing the Bill of Rights with near-unanimity. Much of, indeed most of, the media went along at first. All of this went contrary to everything we thought we knew about American democracy and its uniquely inspired series of checks and balances. But someone always seems to step up in this democracy which is now nearing one-quarter of a millenium. In the end, it was liberty-loving groups such as librarians--those often-lampooned ladies who shoosh you for talking too loudly--who had the brass balls that others lacked to resist the Patriot Act. Contrary to their caricature, they emboldened us all to speak up on behalf of protecting our rights."
For all these reasons and more, please consider taking a moment to recognize your favorite librarian for this award. You'll have done your part to celebrate a priceless national resource.