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Why the Public Still Needs National Library Week

From “The Public” by Emilio Estevez

Editor's Note:

Also in the news: the White House braces for James Comey’s book, and LGBTQ conversion therapy opponents score another victory. It’s your Daily Blunt!

Unless you follow a bunch of librarians on Twitter, you may have missed the fact that this is National Library Week, and as issues related to free speech, homelessness, education, and net neutrality become more pressing with every passing year, this is not a commemoration we can afford to pass up. With his upcoming movie “The Public,” which debuted at this year’s Santa Barbara Film Festival, Emilio Estevez shows how these issues all converge at your local branch, and hopes to inspire greater involvement in communities across America. “There is perhaps no better place on the planet to observe human behavior than inside a public library,” he observes in a recent interview. This isn’t a new phenomenon – rare-books librarian Matthew Battles has documented the function of libraries in the public sphere going back thousands of years. Estevez also points out that he recently renewed his passport via services available at Cincinnati’s public library. How can yours be of service to you, and vice versa?

In literary news, White House aides do not appear to be preparing a countermessage to James Comey’s new book, A Higher Loyalty, which is set for an April 17 release. Politico cites officials who say it’s well understood within the administration that “laying out an advance media strategy is largely a futile exercise since President Donald Trump could blow up any prepared talking points with a single tweet.” As for Comey’s tweets, the former FBI director posted a message last month reminding the President that Americans can “judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.” The article points out that Comey’s month-long tour of appearances is certain to keep his book in the spotlight long after its release.

The push against involuntary conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors significant enjoyed another significant victory this week as Hawaii joined the growing list of states banning the practice. Boy Erased author and conversion therapy survivor Garrard Conley has emerged as a persistent advocate for minors at risk of being subjected to these practices, which have been disavowed by every major medical association. The debut of the film adapted from his memoir, which stars Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe, will likely catapult this issue to even greater visibility. In the meantime, a contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” revealed last week that upon being outed to his family, he was subjected to a religious intervention that involved an exorcism.

Michelle McNamara may not be here to enjoy the success of her book I’ll Be Gone In the Dark, which was finished by fellow researchers following her death in 2016 and includes an afterword by her husband Patton Oswalt, but thanks to her work, the search for the Golden State Killer’s identity has broadened. In fact, HBO has announced that it will adapt her book into a documentary series, a development that Oswalt believes “will advance the passionate pursuit that Michelle shared with dozens of men and women in law enforcement.” In a recent case update, officials estimate that the perpetrator of these crimes, if still alive, would now be between 60 and 75 years old.