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.
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 …
Some of you know that I moved from Colorado to Chicago this year. It was January. Then, I discovered that I had moved not just next door to, but just above the main floor of a very popular, and very loud, dance club.
To be fair, most days of the week (Sunday-Wednesday) the apartment is very quiet. But it's also dark, pointing east toward a tiny box of brick between two skyscrapers into which little light falls.
But my landlords gave me a six month (as opposed to a full year) lease, and let me out a little early to move up from the first to the 16th floor. The new apartment has a pretty spectacular view of Lake Michigan. The new apartment is more expensive, of course, but I do like the Near North neighborhood. From my address, it's an 11 minute walk to work, and two blocks away from almost anything else.
So I've spent my day, in a leisurely way (I strolled to a terrific breakfast place in the morning, I walked along the shore this afternoon), preparing 12 boxes, 6 pieces of…