Linwood Barclay had an article in today’s Toronto Star criticizing Yann Martel’s plan to send Prime Minister Stephen Harper a book every other week. As AKD points out, Barclay completely misses Martel’s point. Martel has initiated the website and the sending of books to Harper as an advocacy plan to create an awareness of the importance of the arts and the need for government funding and support.
Barclay writes that Harper should be able to read what he wants to in his spare time and argues that Martel should send gift certificates to the PM instead, so he can buy books of his own choice. Maybe Martel’s choices are appropriate, maybe they are not. In any event, Harper is representing the public and should have some knowledge of literature, especially Canadian literature and art. Does Harper know what he should be reading or what he would like to read? Should we really know what he reads in his spare time and is it right for us to judge? I’d say probably not.
As a future librarian, I am deeply offended by Barclay’s article. I can not believe that a member of the press would so under handedly throw such a deep insult to libraries ignoring the readers’ advisory services available to library users. I realized after reading the article over a second time that Barclay’s assault on libraries was unintentional and most readers will be completely oblivious and will remain unaware of the readers’ advisory services and expertise available to them in their local public libraries.
I should have written a letter to the editor earlier today to suggest that instead of sending gift certificates to bookstores that Martel should send the PM a LIBRARY CARD and the e-mail address and phone number of a librarian specializing in reader’s advisory services (fiction and/or non-fiction). Librarians are educated to provide this type of service, and there are some really great readers’ advisory services offered by libraries. The employees of large big box bookstores don’t usually have this expertise. Tomorrow if I am not so tired I really just might write a letter to the editor, if that isn’t too late.