“When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that society has found one more way to destroy itself.”
– Isaac Asimov
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear –
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
- Percy Shelley
I am a big Margaret Atwood fan, so when I first read that Doug Ford had ignorantly dismissed her while ignorantly dismissing libraries, I was angry. Then I realized that in 20 years no one will remember who Doug Ford is and Margaret Atwood (who has a list of accomplishments that is most likely longer than anything Mr. Ford has ever read) will still be taught in high schools, and considered a national treasurer & one of Canada’s greatest writers.
The problem with conservatives like the Ford brothers (and Stephen Harper) is that they don’t follow their nonsense anti-government philosophy to its logical end by actually cutting waste, they go after government programs that actually work efficiently (like the long-form census, and the Toronto Public Library system.) The Globe and Mail neatly summarizes the awesomeness of Toronto’s 99 libraries: “Toronto’s system is the second largest, by number of branches, and the busiest by circulation, on the continent. New York City public libraries lent out 24 million volumes in 2010; Toronto’s lent out over 32 million. The system has innovated, offering music and e-book downloads, making Internet access widely available, delivering materials to local branches, and lending out cards that give free access to local museums.” The library is one of humanities greatest accomplishments. It is a place where anyone, literally anyone can come for the ultimate democratic experience. Immigrants and those who live in poverty can help lift themselves up with the information found in our libraries. Libraries are one of the last/best places where people are brought together in the world of social isolation that we all now inhabit. Doug Ford’s dismissal of libraries is an attack on an institution that brings out the best in people.
Finally, the fact that Doug Ford said that he would only talk to Mrs. Atwood if she were an elected politician is complete horse-feces. During the election campaign both Ford’s claimed to have received calls from private citizens demanding an end of the so-called “gravy train.” Margaret may be an internationally respect author but she is also a Torontonian, one of the “tax-payers” that the Fords falsely claim to defend.
When industrialist Andrew Carnegie wanted to create a legacy he donated money to build gigantic libraries in New York City as he knew that they were a public good. What will Doug Ford’s legacy be? A $60 saving on a car registration fee? Several bleak parking lots where libraries used to be? Look on his works, Toronto, and despair.