Celeste Ng Knew Librarians Were Next

I read Our Missing Hearts when it first came out and really enjoyed the novel. The book is about resistance, struggling for freedom, and the dangers of autocracy. It reads a bit like The Handmaid’s Tale and is also set in Greater Boston. What I’ve been thinking about lately though is how Celeste Ng positioned librarians as people in a network of resistance.

This history is there with librarians resistance to The Patriot Act. But since the publication of Ng’s novel (2022) attacks on librarians have grown. Book challenges have increased by 92% this past year. Librarians are quitting the profession in places like Florida due to new restrictions.

As I’ve read that news, I’ve thought about Our Missing Hearts. I’ve thought how prescient Ng was regarding attacks on books and diversity. How what starts with a trickle becomes a flood in the novel as people broaden the scope of “Un-American.” Public libraries are one of the United States’ great institutions and have been viewed with a sense of trust. As disinformation and culture war wedge issues increase it’s no wonder that institutions whose mission it is to serve their diverse communities as sources of facts, culture, and education come under attack.

Tim Lepczyk

Writer, Technologist, and Librarian.

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