Al Franken

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Al Franken coverAl Franken: Giant of the Senate
Franken
2017

Submitter: So, I was making a delivery of intra-network media transfers to a local college library the other day, and as I was waiting for the right person to accept the delivery and fetch my pick-up, my eyes scanned the shelves, just happening to fall upon the “political commentary” shelves. I spotted this tome sitting there, pulled it off, and immediately recognized it as probably dated with “weeding” potential. I saw the library’s director walk by, caught his attention, and said, “Do you folks ever take weeding suggestions?” He replied “Well, with appropriate consideration, of course…..” I showed him this tome. His eyes widened a bit, then rolled ceiling-wards, and with a heavy sigh, he said, “Yeah, I think we need to pull that for review….” It ended up later on the surplus sale shelf for a dollar. You can get this used from Amazon for as little as a quarter plus shipping as I type (more accurately $5 or so).

Now, I’m not being political here. I would have done and said the same for a self-aggrandizing book like this (farcical or satirical as it may be) by any disgraced, hypocritical Republican Senator forced to resign. But both the director and I were amazed at the irony involved. And, to be honest, when I pulled it to hand to the director, I didn’t even realize it was BY Franken.

So, a discussion of weeding policy: Keep this book on the shelves for the would-be readers that remain convinced he was railroaded out of the Senate on trumped-up accusations, or remove it simply for the irony factor?

Holly: Submitter emailed a second time to say it gets better! Not only was that copy AUTOGRAPHED (see image below), but a second copy was found in a different community college, also put in the surplus sale, ALSO AUTOGRAPHED! What are the chances? Did Al Franken visit the area at some point and leave a bunch of gifts behind? Submitter pointed out that the weeded copies were in the sale for $1.00 but autographed probably could have brought in a much higher price.

Now, for my two cents. His resignation due to sexual misconduct (which clearly isn’t talked about in this book…) might create strong opinions, but it doesn’t necessarily negate his autobiography. In fact, it may give curiosity-seekers a reason read it. If my patrons still want to read it, what the heck – they’re welcome to it. Our copy last went out in September 2018, so it’s been almost a year. It’s definitely slowing down. Every library needs to know their community’s tastes and tolerances, so weed as you see fit! Our copy has about 6 months to a year to go out again, and then it will meet the great weeding pile in the sky.

Al Franken autograph

19 comments

  1. We picked up several political biographies/autobiographies in the run up to the last presidential election. In my experience, they have current interest only, usage drops off quickly, and they can be safely weeded after 1-2 years. I’d make an exception for anything written by a local politician.

    Franken’s is an interesting case. I read somewhere that he’s working on rehabilitating himself — he still says that what he was accused of doing isn’t exactly what happened. I might give this one another year, if there were any signs of community interest.

    1. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/08/14/harry-reid-al-franken-run-again-1463472
      https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/07/29/the-case-of-al-franken

      According to several articles I have been googling and reading, it seems like some Democrats regret pressuring Franken to resign without due process or investigation into the eight accusations placed on him. One reason being that Franken was a strong critic against Trump and has a strong popular base among voters aka likely to get elected.

      Another reason I suspect in that its presidential election time and Democratic candidates need dirt or need to create a controversy on their follow running mates. One potential issue is that some, like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY-D) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), were strongly in favor of Franken resigning. Franken and his supporters are likely have an ax to grind and wants revenge for ruining his political career. And favoring a candidate that is willing to give them, mainly by criticizing both Gillibrand and Harris for their roles in the Franken affair, would benefit both parties in the long run; Gillibrand and Harris don’t get nomination, and the president candidate(s) will get votes from the Franken party in the end.

      But from what I read of the New Yorker article, Franken sounds like a lonely broken man living alone by himself. The article claims that Franken’s wife wasn’t here during the interview due to having a cold in Washington D.C., but the article later on says that Franken’s wife wanted him to fight it out and not resign. It could be that they are separated now since his resignation in Jan. 2018 due to him resigning.

  2. I have a mint condition copy of this that I found in one of the ‘free to a good home’ boxes that frequently show up in our neighborhood.

    What Franken did was juvenile and stupid but it was far less than what other men have been accused of doing. His action was certainly not vicious.

    The book is fun and I’m happy to have it but I’m not sure it belongs in a public library unlesss there’s a classification for political humor.

  3. In my personal experience, sanctimonious political commentary masquerading as entertainment always sells and circulates well–his previous books were in seemingly every library I’ve entered when current, and the right-wing equivalent to this would, of course, be Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and others.

    Except that Rush, Sean, etc. never tried to parlay that populism into getting elected to high office, by a razor-thin (and still questionable) margin.

    Of course, Rush Limbaugh also ended up with some questionable ethics problem (charged with prescription fraud and treated for Oxycontin abuse). But, again, not elected to office. And he continues to be popular, although not as much as once–the shtick is simply old-hat by now.

    The book in question was written for his fan base, and only his fan base, and like Rush Limbaugh there are enough of them out there to sell anything he cobbles together–see all the glowing reviews of this book that literally lionize him like God’s gift to politics or this nation. It’ll circulate no matter what.

    The broader question is, is there any circumstance where an author’s actions post-publication are so egregious that they warrant such an autobiography’s removal? What if Bill Clinton were to finally be convicted in civil court of rape, or Hillary jailed for some corruption aftermath? If Trump gets impeached, do we discard his books? (A more legitimate case: a friend of mine asked his library to remove a couple financial-advice books after the author was convicted of tax fraud for the very advice he touted in said books.)

    1. If the autobiographer was shown post publication to have lied in their book on something of importance (not minor details), I would default to withdraw since it is now factually inaccurate.

  4. This book is not “self-aggrandizing.” He was a politician, but he was also a comedian and quite a good one, and he wrote books of political humor before he ever ran for office. He was also a good senator. I am still ambivalent about his being forced out.

  5. Last night I saw two copies of Bill Cosby’s “Fatherhood” in the free books area of my library. I think we can all agree no one needs those.

    1. “Last night I saw two copies of Bill Cosby’s “Fatherhood” in the free books area of my library. I think we can all agree no one needs those.”

      But this is the exact same problem! Are we saying the ironic aspects of him authoring a hilarious book on “fatherhood” and family life and then getting charged later for salacious sexual abuse charges makes this material suddenly not funny or insightful????

      Honestly, the only differences are 1) Cosby was convicted in a court of law while Franken has yet to be; and 2) the Franken book is new enough to still circulate, while EVERY thrift store has copies of Cosby’s now-ancient books on their 25-cent shelves (that’s the REAL issue, not everything else). If Cosby’s material is supposed to be taboo after what he did, so should Franken’s. Or–as some would no doubt allege–is there a “racist” double standard?

      Mind you, I really don’t give a flying fig myself. This whole post and discussion is just a useful exercise in weeding policy.

      1. I think Cosby’s particular crimes make his writings on fatherhood suspect.

        If Franken had written about how to make friends and find romance, I might agree with you. But he didn’t.

  6. The local library up here near the Twin Cities dumped an awful lot of Garrison Keillor’s books onto the sale rack after his scandal surfaced.

  7. I think Franken was railroaded without due process. The person on the airplane seems to have had an agenda, and she messed with the facts. This was in mid-flood of #MeToo and I think people got carried away. There are certainly others in government service who have done much worse things, and they are still there. I am not saying that two wrongs make a right, but we are supposed to be a country under the rule of law, not of shouting mobs.

  8. Sorry if I am making more than my share of comments here! But I just thought of something else — do libraries have copies of Mein Kampf? Surely the actions of that book’s author are worse than those of any other mentioned here.

    1. True. I think Mr. H’s printed work has a Hierostratus explanation. The “ripples in the pond” from his non-printed work have not died out at all, so many people want to know why he threw that stone in the water. I don’t see displays promoting it, but copies are still available for reading.

    2. It’s the same question that comes up with regard to the library owning films by Roman Polanski, CDs by Christ Brown, etc. If the content is still good/useful, should the book be pulled because of the author’s personal life?

  9. I remember wincing at how many copies of this I had bought when the scandal broke (weeks or maybe months after publication as I recall it). Still, it made sense to keep some while it was current. Political books date fast, and at this point I’d only keep a copy if it was proving itself with circulation. I do not judge books by the actions of authors or allegations about them. Surely no one weeded Sherman Alexie’s books when he got in trouble. If people want to read Cosby, keep Cosby. If people want to read Hitler, keep Hitler. Collect the new books about them that give alternative viewpoints, but don’t weed on the basis of content or personality.

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