When a library is under attack… by Deb Sarah

Sarah_Bella_03-5A suburban Chicago newspaper, The Daily Herald, recently reported a story I found appalling. Author Tess Gerritsen mentioned it on her blog, and I’m also sharing it here, because I know a lot of you will be equally outraged. Think back to when you were 11 years old: Was there a librarian who helped you with a school research project, or who took the time to guide you to the perfect book, the one you couldn’t wait to rush home to read the minute the school bell struck three o’clock?  Who among us book lovers doesn’t have those memories, right?

Here’s the story as it ran in the paper: Telling her mother that she wanted to come to the aid of a library under attack, 11-year-old Sydney Sabbagha stood at the podium before the Oak Brook village board.

“I used to go to the library knowing there were people there to help me find a book. Now there is no one to help me,” Sydney said solemnly. “It will never be the same without the people you fired.”

Sydney nestled back into her seat, but that didn’t stop 69-year-old criminal attorney Constantine “Connie” Xinos from boldly putting her in her place.

“Those who come up here with tears in their eyes talking about the library, put your money where your mouth is,” Xinos shot back. He told Sydney and others who spoke against the layoffs of the three full-time staffers (including the head librarian and children’s librarian) and two part-timers to stop “whining” and raise the money themselves.

“I don’t care that you guys miss the librarian, and she was nice, and she helped you find books,” Xinos told them.

“Don’t cry crocodile tears about people who are making $100,000 a year wiping tables and putting the books back on the shelves,” Xinos smirked, apparently referencing the fired head librarian, who has advanced degrees and made $98,676 a year. He said Oak Brook had to “stop indulging people in their hobbies” and “their little, personal, private wants.”

Wow. I’ve read the story three times and I’m still shocked. I think about that 11-year-old girl, being brave enough to speak in a public forum and fight for her beloved library, and what it must have felt like for her to encounter a man like Xinos. I have no doubt the librarians talked to Sydney afterwards and thanked her for her courage. Maybe they even gave her a book or two that helped reinforce how important it is to stand up for what’s right, to fight the bad guys and bullies. To Kill a Mockingbird might be a good one.

Come to think of it, Xinos could use a few of those books, too. I’ve got the perfect place for him to put them.

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Sarah Pekkanen

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18 thoughts on “When a library is under attack… by Deb Sarah

  1. Wow, it’s unbelievable to me that a 69 year old criminal attorney thinks that all a librarian does is wipe tables and re-shelving books. I hope the people of that town rally around Sydney – she sounds like a wonderful kid!

  2. Sydney has entered the arena. Just by entering she has shown herself to be one in one thousand. You watch, that girl is going to change the world. As for Xinos, he’s like Plato’s example of men living underground and watching the world through darkness and shadows.

  3. Ever wonder how much money cranky old Xinos makes for defending the scum of the earth? Not that all criminal attorneys defend the scum of the earth, mind you. But something about this guy tells me he ain’t one of the nice ones!

    Anyone try to track down Sydney and tell her YOU GO GIRL!?

  4. A great idea might be to track her down and send her a box of new books or a gift certificate for books. I’d love to pitch in. Because I’m a guy, and don’t want to come across as a stalker, I’ll let one of you ladies take the lead. Then we can do more than just talk about it, we can make a difference.

    Best,

    Greg

  5. I’ve got a message in to Sydney’s father… more to come!! Thanks for these great suggestions.

  6. I just spoke with Sara! I can’t believe the life of this story! Thank you for your support toward Sydney & praising her forstanding up for what she beleives in! She learned (at too young of an age) how cruel people can be! This story has empowered our “library lovers” & this mom! If you want to go one step futher, we would love letters to the Village Trustees supporting the library. They are planning the 2010 budget!
    http://www.oak-brook.org

  7. After 2 months, there is still no one at the library. There is one person at the desk, ocassionaly. There is like one or two people that wander around the entire library. Thanks so much for supporting me. I appreciate the comments!I hope to start planning to help recover the library very soon.

  8. Thank YOU Sydney and please know we are all behind you 100 percent.

    I’m so impressed by you, and please let us know what happens. If anyone can help save the jobs of the librarians, it will be you.

  9. Wow! Sydney and Sydney’s mom here in the comment trail!
    It’s a privilege to “meet” you here.

  10. Sydney’s Mom and Sydney,
    We are all very proud of Sydney. It’s not always easy to stand up for what one believes in. Most people don’t, but Sydney did. She is inspiring. If it’s okay with Sydney’s mom I would be quite happy to give Sydney one of my original art pieces on paper. Just my way of saying thanks. If Sydney doesn’t see something she likes my feelings won’t be hurt. I learned long ago that paintings choose their owners, not the other way around. Just click on my name above to go to my website and gallery.
    All the best,
    Greg Gutierrez

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