Recently, a library patron challenged (urged a reconsideration of the ownership or placement of) a book called "Uncle Bobby's Wedding." Honestly, I hadn't even heard of it until that complaint. But I did read the book, and responded to the patron, who challenged the item through email and requested that I respond online (not via snail-mail) about her concerns.
I suspect the book will get a lot of challenges in 2008-2009. So I offer my response, purging the patron's name, for other librarians.
Uncle Bobby's wedding
June 27, 2008
Dear Ms. Patron:
Thank you for working with my assistant to allow me to fit your concerns about “Uncle Bobby's Wedding,” by Sarah S. Brannen, into our “reconsideration” process. I have been assured that you have received and viewed our relevant policies: the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read, Free Access to Libraries for Minors, the Freedom to View, and our Reconsideration Policy.
Back in 2008 I presented with my good friend and fellow library director Eloise May, as well as one of her board members (Howard Rotham) and one of mine (Mark Weston) at a Public Library Association conference.
Our session was about how to evaluate a library director. (For evaluating the library board, see here.) It was based, like all good sessions, on all the things we had done wrong. We eventually figured things out, and wanted to save other people the bother of making all of our mistakes.
I had this posted on my old website as a file, and recently had a request for it. So here's my attempt to embed this from a Google Slides. Let's give it a shot. (If some of the slides are too small, click the icon to go full screen.)
Years ago, I came up with this phrase to describe why libraries matter: they are institutions dedicated to the recognition and support of the fundamental dignity of human inquiry.
Curiosity is responsible for all the real gains in the quality of human life. What causes disease, and how can we prevent it? How can we build comprehensive and sustainable systems to deliver clean water and energy, to move goods and services to markets, or to educate the young? Human beings ask questions, and in the fearless pursuit of answers, they can find their way to the things that make human life enduring and worthwhile.
That end - a life in which people are free to explore the universe around them, to stand unafraid, to build rather than blunder and destroy their way through their days, to live with dignity and purpose - requires at least three things.
First, we must have the freedom to express what we know or think we know. This is what we mean by “free speech” -- the right to think, say, and write …