Just the Books, Please | Letters | Chicago Reader

Just the Books, Please 

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To the editors:

I think that all library users must have groaned in despair upon reading "Take My Cultural Center--Please!" in the Jan. 5 issue [The Culture Club]. Of course not only the present administration, but also the recent past Library Board seem to have forgotten what the Cultural Center was all about.

At the time of its creation in the 1970's, it was a library atrocity of the first rank involving the sundering of the Central Collection, but at the present time the interests of those who opposed and those who supported the abusive manner of creating the Cultural Center overlap.

Library users have been inconvenienced for fifteen years in the interests of creating the Cultural Center, and the present administration should continue the plan. This also means that all the non-library functions which the recent past Library Board foisted on the new library building should be transferred to the Cultural Center. That includes the restaurant, the shops, the jazz museum, the statuary, the paintings, the gas station, and the tailor.

The new library must be a library and nothing more. It must not be a tourist attraction and a shopping center. It must not have any greater connection to art and music than it has to any other category of the Dewey Decimal System. In fact, the excessive use of art in the old building which opened in 1897 caused the tragic sundering of the Central Collection in 1975.

Furthermore, in the case of modern art, all we need is for some "artist" to exhibit his flag doormat or his shredded Bible, and the crazed shouting mob will deprive library users of the easy access and the quiet they need, defeating the mission of the library.

The wise advice of our distinguished first librarian, William Frederick Poole, was ignored in the 1890's and the 1980's both. He wrote in 1892 "Make a building for use as a library, and not as a show building." Poole was far ahead of his time, and, apparently, ours.

Stuart Simon

N. Burling

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