New York Public Library, and Laure Halse Anderson lets it rip

I'm grinning. Marching made the New York Public Library's Children’s Books 2009 - 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing list.

How important are libraries and librarians? I climb on my soapbox as often as possible to rave about librarians, but never as eloquently as Laurie Halse Anderson (of Speak and Chains fame) just did at the American Association of School Librarians conference. She talked about recent censorship challenges her books have faced and then said this:

"I believe that every time a library budget is cut, every time a librarian’s hours are cut - or the position is eliminated completely - it is another form of censorship. It is stealing from children and interfering with their education.

Taking books out of libraries and taking librarians out of libraries are just like ripping the roof off of a school. And maybe that’s how we need to describe it, in the dire, stark terms of reality. You can't run a school that doesn't have a roof. You can't run a school without librarians and libraries.

Book people – like you and me – tend to be a little uncomfortable with conflict. We value discussion, we respect other opinions. We avoid fights.

When I was kid, I was not allowed to start fights. If I did, I knew that I’d be in a whole lot more trouble when I got home than I could ever be at school.But my mother – she of the hats and gloves and ugly purses - told me that if anybody ever hit me first, I was allowed to punch back as hard as I could.

“Don’t you ever start a fight,” Mother said. “But if somebody picks a fight with you, by God, you finish it.”

The people who do not value books or librarians have picked a fight with me. That was a mistake.

They are ripping the roof off our libraries, off our schools. They are exposing our children to ignorance and condemning them to poverty. When they rip the roof off of libraries, they weaken our country."

Awesome! To read a longer excerpt, check out her blog post.