September 29, 2016
If this local library had a surplus of money, this Florida resident would probably know to follow it
by Chad Felix
Clinton Cash, Peter Schweizer’s 2015 investigation into the Clinton Foundation, is generally considered to be a pretty good hit job. Given its author’s day job as senior editor-at-large for alt-right haven Breitbart News, it’s no surprise that the book’s intent is to plant seeds of terror and uncertainty in the minds of would-be Clinton voters. Nonetheless, it does provide readers with some verifiable facts regarding donations made to the Clinton Foundation through foreign entities and paid speeches, and they’re worth thinking about. While the conclusions the book draws aren’t always convincing, the evidence is deeply troubling—something the book reveals with relish.
The book has since generated a couple more-easily-digestible adaptations for this interminable campaign season: a Clinton Cash film was released in July 2016 and funded by former Breitbart News chairman and current Donald Trump Shit Parade Chief Stephen K. Bannon (Time, in their review of the film adaptation, notes that, “there are many places where dotted lines are smudged into solid ones”), and a graphic novel version, adapted by Chuck Dixon and Brett R. Smith, debuted at number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list in early August.
It’s this graphic novel edition—and local librarians—that have drawn the ire of Alachua County, Florida resident Ann Lhota. Simply put, Lhota feels that the Alachua County Library’s decision not to include the graphic adaptation in its collection is an act of censorship, a political decision made because, as she told the Gainseville Sun, “they know it will be successful.”
This is a fair, important claim to make if there is in fact evidence that your local library has been compromised in its civic duty of providing patrons with information for free, without censorship or judgement. But, as Nickie Kortus, the marketing and public relations manager for the library’s district, explains, at the time of Lhota’s request, the library already had eleven copies of Clinton Cash in four different formats (I’m guessing hardcover, large print, audio, and e-book). Given the state libraries are basically always in (chronically underfunded), it’s easy to see how not acquiring a fifth format of a book with limited post-election interest might be justified. Kortus also notes that demand for the graphic novel version of the book has not been high enough to warrant its addition to the collection (fewer than twenty people have requested the graphic novel), and that of the thirty-nine books previously requested by Ann Lhota, the Alachua County Library has thirty-five in its collection.
It’s really pretty hard to see foul play here. Nonetheless, Lhota remains unconvinced, not-amused, and vigilant, promising she’ll continue to alert media and government officials about this injustice, and even going so far as offering to purchase a copy for the library’s collection. The library responded, in essence, Uh, that’s not really how this works, and informed Ann Lhota that they have a budget to which she is more than welcome to donate.
Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.