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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Our Faceless Founding Father

Look, if anyone understands the difficult times we're facing in this city, it's me. I get it. There's a recession, baby, and everyone is cutting corners wherever possible. So I totally understand someone not wanting to spend the ten cents it costs to photocopy a page out of a library book.

But when book vandals took their safety scissors to a children's biography of our nation's first president, my patience wore thin. Honestly, is nothing sacred anymore? Just look at this:

I'm not sure if you can read the caption, but it says that George Washington's family considered this sculpture to be "the most accurate depiction of him." Do you understand the significance of this? The most accurate depiction. And now it's gone. Subsequently, students of history will never REALLY know what Washington's face looked like. All we can see now behind the sad crater that once was George's majestic visage is (somewhat coincidentally) a map of old New York. Shameful.

Later, in the same book, the de-facers ruthlessly de-faced once more. In the following picture, Washington appears to be in the middle of what was surely a great speech. Or maybe he was proofreading the Bill of Rights. It doesn't matter. What matters is that we can't see George's face. Was his expression thoughtful? Were his brows furrowed in concentration? Was he laughing? Was he shouting with raw, masculine, presidential fervor? We'll never know.

They say that George Washington could not tell a lie. Now we know the true reason for this: he had no mouth with which to tell one. (My apologies, Mr. President. I'd tape your face back on for you if it wasn't stuck to some kid's social studies project somewhere.)


  1. THIS HAPPENS TO US ALL THE TIME. Seriously - we have to replace our books about Illinois annually because kids cut all the pictures out of them. Sometimes we keep them quarantined behind the desk so we can keep track of who is using them during project time.

  2. Maybe we should start installing cameras in the books. I wonder if that's in the budget...

  3. I thought I had worked at the only library where this happened. I worked at a public library in the late 90s and we would loose several Black history books each year to this. The teachers at local middle/elementary schools would give the kids extra points for illustrating their reports. I always wondered why the teachers didn't look at the pictures and say "Hey that paper looks like it came from a book." The circ desk staff wouldn't notice the damage on check in so we never caught anyone who actually did it. The teachers kept assigning the same few people for the most part so we had to keep buying the same books/subjects each year.

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