, Salem, MA

March 1, 2013

Rock star's love of libraries inspires

Will Broaddus

---- — Nancy Anthony, a senior instructor in the library media studies program at Salem State University, likes the recent autobiography by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, “Life the Book.”

“The guy is very honest and straightforward; he tells it like it is,” she said.

One thing she likes most about Richards, whose hard partying and bad behavior are legendary, is his love of libraries.

“When you are growing up,” Richards said, “there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is the great equalizer.”

Anthony first read that quote in an online edition of the Daily Mail, an English tabloid, when it previewed Richards’ book.

“Librarians have a certain image, and I thought that was a little outside of the box,” she said.

She liked the statement so much that she “put it out on our library’s Listserv” for others to read.

But once Anthony started to read “Life the Book,” she was less surprised that Richards would make such a statement.

“You could appreciate that he was intelligent and well-read,” she said.

Richards has also amassed a fortune playing rock ’n’ roll, and that allowed him to furnish his estate with a library of his own, so he no longer needs to use the public library if he doesn’t want to.

Anthony’s students haven’t been so lucky, and the positions she trains them for are being cut from budgets, which in turn threatens the program at Salem State, she said.

That’s a problem because school libraries require a different credential than public libraries, and Salem State is the only program in Massachusetts that offers one.

“It’s in jeopardy of being cut,” she said. “The state education program is not going to support them if they want to be a school librarian.”

Anthony, who worked at libraries in the Marblehead, Salem and Reading school systems for many years, can only hope that things turn out for school librarians the way they did for Keith Richards.

“Here’s a guy that was pickled for a while, then he came through,” she said. “I love stories of redemption.”