Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Of libraries and small-town politics

Alaska is a small town. It never does to forget that. Being on a first-name basis with a legislator or governor or Congressperson is not that big a deal here—although occasionally the official in question will get a bit too big for their britches (until somebody who knows them on a first-name basis—which could be anybody in the state—punctures their balloon).

The brouhaha with Sarah Palin and Wasilla's former library director over censorship has been brought up all over again, with much commentary and babble. No politician in this state should ever forget that what he or she did ten, twenty years ago will come back to them, just as it does in a small town. Small-town secrets are ones that everyone knows, and ignores, unless something happens to make them relevant again. By throwing herself into the national elections, Palin has made her past actions and attitudes highly pertinent, not only in the national newsmedia sense, but in the very personal sense of her interactions within Alaska. Now, of course, she's raised the ire of librarians: people you really don't want to mess with. They know how to do research.

Governor Palin's only interaction with the Ester library was to veto the modest request for funding that the Ester Community Association made to the state last session, of $50,000 for materials for the foundation and other preliminary work on our planned new library. It was just one of many funding vetoes she made; we'll try again next session. (Who knows? we may be dealing with a different governor…I gack at the implications for the nation.)

An interesting tidbit: that former Wasilla librarian everybody's fussing about is a resident of the Ester area. She hasn't had anything to do with the Ester library so far, though (having a full-time job with the Noel Wien Library keeps her busy, no doubt!).

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