If you’re a fan of a good cause (or a person who is drawn to librarian controversy like a moth to a flame), then check out the YALSA’s “Booze for Books” fundraiser on April 12th. It’s raising money in support of the Books for Teens cause which (in their words) seek to “empower the nation’s at-risk teens to achieve more by providing them with free high quality, new, age-appropriate books.” Aside from the use of the word “empower”, it seems like a decent enough concept to support and one worthy of the backing of YALSA.
The pearl clutching starts at the first word of this fundraiser with the term “booze”. Despite the passage clearly stating the nature of the fundraiser is up to the individual (thus actual booze in not a requirement for participation), the mere mention of the Liquid Devil is enough to rile up the people in the comments about how this name is in poor taste, tarnish the image of librarians, or the dangers of alcohol.
I’ll concede on the poor taste aspect since personal taste is subjective, but I have to wonder what sort of commitment that represents to the underlying cause being supported here. If you’re not going to donate or participate because of an objection to a name, then I’m guessing you really weren’t going to help out in the first place; I can’t imagine that the name represents the sum total of the tipping point of this equation. You can hate the name, but don’t let that stop you from helping out a good cause.
As to the tarnishing the image of librarians, I will rue the day when someone cites their librarian as the reason why they drank, smoked, did drugs, committed crimes, or punched a kitten in the face. That story will get linked, retweeted, and shared to the point where it will be the only thing I can find on my various social media outlets. I can understand the need for some librarians to be a role model to teens, but it should not come at the exclusion of carrying out perfectly legal and socially acceptable adult activities. As the profession expounds on the rights of adults to access all kinds of material, it seems odd that people should be slamming another legal activity to which the participants make their own decisions.
I’m not sure if there is anyone younger than forty who is unaware of the dangers of alcohol. The risks and dangers of consumption were part of health classes as far back as I can remember. I come from a family where alcoholism and addiction issues run on both sides. I’ve never had to battle with that demon, but I’ve had family members who have. I’ve seen what it does. But for that to be a reason to stop a fundraiser like this is foolish. We’d have to stop any at-risk activity simply because someone had a history with it. What would be left? For every activity I can think of, I’m sure there is someone out there who can think of a horrible accident or tragedy that could with it. (“Sorry, the fundraiser ‘Knitting for Novels’ has been cancelled. Someone’s relative was killed an attacker wielding a pair of knitting needles.”)
Whether this is your cup of tea or not, please do consider giving to Books for Teens. It’s a worthy cause that needs your support. And if you really, really hate the whole “Booze for Books” idea, here’s my suggestion: come up with your own fundraising idea and outraise the YALSA one. If you are going to demand alternatives, you should be willing to offer to do one. In any case, I’ll be looking to raise a pint on April 12th either by myself or in the company of my peers. So I hope you’ll join me, either in spirit or in person.