From "Edith Wharton and the War on Terror" by Garrison Keillor
(Submitted by EWS members)
. . .
There is no fighting these boondoggles and politicians know it. The stuff gets passed and signed into law and taxpayer groups fire off a barrage of press releases and a week later it's old news. The sensible thing is to fight for your own boondoggle.
I belong to an enormous special-interest group that, unlike Alaskans or hobby pilots, has never exercised much clout, and that is the English-major community. For us, the equivalent of the Gravina Island bridge is the public library equipped with leather sofas and an espresso bar and librarians who are trained in pressure-point massage. Greek columns would be nice, and a pair of stone lions, and a rare book collection and a three-story lobby with marble floors so your footsteps echo as if you were in an Edith Wharton novel. And a statue of Minerva.
I imagine that a super-library of that caliber might cost $223 million if you add in the books, the banks of computers with high-speed Internet connections, the movie theater, the Children's Room, the Steam Room, the Nap Room, the Hobnob Room where English majors can gather for a libation, the underground parking garage, and the kindly reference librarian with the bun, the faint moustache on the upper lip, the navy-blue knit dress, the sensible shoes, and the glasses on a chain around her neck. Those ladies have become rare and do not come cheap.
We English majors need a mouthpiece in Congress of the caliber of Rep. Don Young of Alaska. And we need to promote public libraries as a tool in the war against terror.
How many readers of Edith Wharton have engaged in terroristic acts? I challenge you to name one. Therefore, the reading of Edith Wharton is a proven deterrent to terror. Do we need to wait until our cities lie in smoking ruins before we wake up to the fact that a first-class public library is a vital link in national defense?
Which side is your congressman on? If we English majors would make our voices heard and flood Congress with angry sonnets, we would get a major library bill passed. I hope that Minnesota will get the first $223 million library, but if Ketchikan wants one too, fine.