Set them free

Perhaps motivated students would like to brush up on a little history this week in light of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commons dedication ceremony.

Even NIU has those kind of students who enjoy a little outside reading, particularly at the time of celebration.

Benjamin Hooks, former director of the NAACP will be here. Thousands of students, faculty and staff will be on hand to celebrate the life of the man who had a dream.

Well if you’re one of those students who would like to expand your mind by reading up on King, keep dreaming.

A book subject search at Founders Memorial Library on King found 61 items but attempts to find them came up near empty, although the juvenile section boasts a few works on the good reverend. Rare books also has a few items, but you can’t check them out.

A good number of items have mysteriously disappeared. A lucky few surviving books have been checked out. Hopefully, they’re in better hands than those of the library.

Here’s the kicker. Seven of the best works on King are very safely (and very attractively) displayed in a very locked glass book case in the library foyer.

A library worker said the books couldn’t be taken out. “Oh, I think they’re in there for the MLK commons dedication. They should be out in about a month. I think.”

Well they look very nice in the beautiful case, but is this a library or a museum? Perhaps someone would like to read them. We might be undergrads, but that’s what books are for isn’t it?

Well a month isn’t too long. Hopefully the books won’t get lonely in that case and the memory of King will certainly outlast the dedication ceremony, so we’ll have to wait.

In a month or so, once the books have been desegregated from the other library books, we can all shout out in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty they’re free at last.”