The Astronomy Book
Submitter: A patron donated The Astronomy Book, by Dr. Jonathan Henry (cover and select pages attached) to my library this week. At a glance, it seems like a harmless, if a little outdated, juvenile astronomy book. But woe betide the librarian who doesn’t dig deeper. This “astronomy” book includes such claims as, “Satan uses the search for aliens and UFOs as a deception to keep many people from finding the true source of salvation” (p 75), and, “There is evidence that the speed of light was much higher in the past, which means that the light we now see from the Andromeda Galaxy did not actually need 2 million years to reach us, but only a few thousand years” (p 55). Of course, the universe is only about 6,000 years old, and the short glossary includes helpful definitions such as, “Nebular hypothesis – the false belief that the solar system evolved from a cloud of gas” (p 78).
We won’t be including this donation in our collection, but a quick tour of World Cat showed that quite a few public libraries own this book. I understand the place of books like this in certain religious school libraries, but this book has so much potential for creating confusion among unsuspecting public library patrons and space enthusiasts who don’t pick up on the cover’s subtle clues!
Holly: This is a great example of why libraries have selection policies. If this book matches your library’s mission, that’s great. You have to look at items carefully to make that determination.