Well, here’s an interesting juxtaposition.
You are probably aware of my lawsuit against a library for banning bare feet. I think I’ve also mentioned that my daughter is a librarian (she tolerates me :-)).
Well, she’s at a library conference in Toledo right now, and sent me a picture.
This is a painting they have on display at the Toledo Library:
[Added: the painting is part of a display of retro posters, so this portrays the way libraries used to be, or liked to be perceived.]
It’s a nice sentiment. It’s part of the image libraries like to portray:
We’re a nice homey place. Take off your shoes, get comfortable, read a book. That’s what libraries are good for.
But if you look at the Toledo Library Behavior Guidelines:
The following actions and behaviors are prohibited in the Library:
- Inappropriate dress: i.e., no shirt, no shoes.
The painting is just fluff. They don’t really mean it. Oh, they’ll say, everybody realizes that the painting is just metaphorical.
No. Everybody doesn’t. We expect you to be true to your word.
It’s like the Stark County District Library I talked about in The Feeling of Power. They use bare feet as a come-on, recognizing that they convey comfort and innocence and freedom and intellectual exploration.
But when push come to shove, they shove. Blatant hypocrisy. Bare feet are good enough to sell a library, but not good enough to take seriously. In the real world, in their real libraries, they say that the boy in that painting is in too much danger.
In my lawsuit, I pointed out that while the Fairfield County District Library was terribly concerned about the safety of bare feet on their floors, they somehow didn’t seem to mind children’s bare legs on that same, supposedly unsafe, floor. Here is the front page of a Lancaster Eagle-Gazette newspaper showing exactly that.
After a while it gets really tiresome to keep seeing the come-ons followed by the contradicting excuses.