As you can see, Ben Franklin paid a visit to the Niles Public Library recently, in honor of a traveling exhibit the library is hosting all about HIM. Ben mostly stayed in character, though did occasionally show a disconcerting knowledge of the score of the Bears’ game.
At the exhibit opening, we were privileged to hear a quite inflammatory speech by Library Journal’s longtime editor John Berry. Librarians as a group tend to be very liberal politically; Niles as a community tends not to be so liberal, so the crowd reaction was mixed. He spoke about the role of libraries in modern times, and how they were still extremely imortant in the role they began with of helping to create an educated electorate. He maintains that a good deal of the information that comes to the public has been corrupted by big business and special interests, and that the massive distrust of government is purely to benefit those trying to manipulate public opinion. He sees the libraries as helping people sort out the good information from the bad.
Some in the audience were squirming and annoyed, but who can imagine that Ben himself wasn’t sometimes politically inflammatory? He was a revolutionary, after all. It was a great night.