Garrison Keilor imagines library pork like the Alaskan bridge-laden Republican Transportation bill. First, the model:
For Alaska, the Republicans earmarked $223 million for a bridge almost as long as the Golden Gate to link the town of Ketchikan (pop. 8,000) — which is a town that exists to sell T-shirts and postcards to cruise passengers for three months a year — to the local airport on Gravina Island, replacing a seven-minute ferry ride. Alaskans also will receive a billion-dollar two-mile-long bridge connecting Anchorage to hundreds of square miles of undeveloped wetlands, a great convenience for bird-watchers who now, instead of having to kayak across the water to observe the red-bellied grommet, can drive over in their Explorers and bring a mobile home with them.
Alas, I fear the undeveloped wetlands may not stay either un- or wet- very long. Next, the improved library library pork version:
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 mustache 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.
Ahem. I’ll resist going on the usual anti-librarian-stereotype rant just because Mr. Keilor is so charming & hilarious. He offers us one final bit of lobbying strategy which I think is a sure winner:
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?