The second book is by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., a name I remember from short stories from my youth. Title The vital center: the politics of freedom, First published in 1949, it came out just as the hot World War II was cooling into the frozen Cold War, and just before McCarthy’s Bolshevik era. His description of the difficulties then, as countries tried to restore economic balance amid the new crisis of nuclear warmongering and a loss of faith in humanity, gave me a new appreciation for the decade in which I was born. The difficulties of keeping a grip on the truth were also described, now putting our own times into real perspective. The division that our country is currently going through is not without precedent: it is history repeating itself, one of its favorite movements.
One of the best things about a free library is that it provides an opportunity to remember humility. Just walk in the door, look at all the books, then walk down the aisles and take a look at the plethora of titles, a person can’t help but remember everything you don’t know . Hopefully, a person will be enticed by at least one title to address that lack of knowledge, at least a little, and verify. Free.
One of the first things oppressive regimes (or political movements) try to do is prevent others from having access to books. The Burning of Steinbeck Grapes of Wrath in Bakersfield in the 1930s (beautifully written in Rick Wartzman’s book Obscene in the extreme, 2008) is just a local example of another turbulent time. The film “Fields of Dreams” included a book ban scene from the 1980s in the Midwest. We are under a similar assault now.
I say all of this just to remind us of that precious resource we have (and often forget), the free library. The free exchange of ideas is as essential to freedom as the free exchange of goods and services. If we don’t step up and defend this right, we will lose it and many other things we subconsciously love until they are gone. This is the story you can find in the (currently) free library books. Check it out.
Trudy Wischemann is a writer who has had a library card since she was 5 years old. You can send him your thoughts on free ideas c/o PO Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com and leave a comment there.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the author and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.