Marian the Totalitarian Librarian

By Leo von Stahl

Readers of a certain age will remember The Music Man, a 1957 Broadway show.  Its music and lyrics were written by Meredith Wilson, who grew up in nearby Mason City, Iowa.  The work was adapted to film in a 1962 hit movie of the same name. 

The story’s principal character was “Professor” Harold Hill, a con-man who posed as a band director in order to sell gullible small town folks musical instruments and uniforms in exchange for organizing a marching band.  His modus operandi, however, was to collect money for the instruments and uniforms, but then disappear without delivering them.

Hill’s love interest in The Music Man was Marian Paroo, immortalized in Meredith Wilson’s catchy tune, “Marian the Librarian.”

Lincoln has its own institutional version of this character, a library bureaucracy best described as “Marian the Totalitarian Librarian.”

The story would be unbelievable if it were not true.

On November 4th, a tax-paying patron received notice from the library that he was banned from all Lincoln city libraries for a period of six months.  This is the punishment for what the “bibliotheca bureaucracy” deems a “Level 4” offense.  Level 4 offenses include inciting violence, illegal activity, using the computers and/or internet to transmit child pornography, and using fireworks in the library.

Level 4 offenses sound pretty serious.  But what was the patron’s offense that justified this severe punishment?  Not wearing a mask in the library as well as speaking his mind about it!  And this occurred at a time when the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department’s Directed Health Measure allowed social distancing as a permitted alternative to mask wearing!

The patron has appealed this draconian action by the library bureaucracy.  We will report the outcome as soon as it becomes available.  In the meantime, protests by our reading public to the Lincoln City Library might help move Marian the Totalitarian Librarian in a softer and gentler direction.

We will keep you informed as to developments in this case.

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One thought on “Marian the Totalitarian Librarian

  1. At least in the movie, Harold Hill did deliver the instruments and uniforms. His con was to teach them to play with a fake method called the “think system.” Then he would skip town just before the band played in public.

    I have also run into a TON of conflict at my local library these past two years. Sometime after the beginning of the pandemic, my library hired a male librarian that vociferously pushes the masking. One time a librarian chased me down in the stacks to remind me about masking WHEN I WAS THE ONLY PATRON IN THE BUILDING.

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