|Weekly News Digest
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'Who's Welcome Here?' by Barbara Fister
On the Library Babel Fish blog, Barbara Fister writes, “[W]hen the American Library Association adopted a revision to a statement about how intellectual freedom applies to meeting rooms it created a storm of discussion and anger. …”
Intellectual freedom means librarians strive to represent all perspectives and resist censorship that’s based on partisan or doctrinal disapproval or bias against a work’s creator. …
There are a variety of ways this value plays out in libraries, and one of them is how you decide who gets to use public meeting rooms. …
Who are we to deny Nazis, white supremacists, or the local chapter of Attack the People We Think Are Scum from sharing their ideas in these public spaces? How else will we understand their perspectives and have civil debate? The problem, of course, is that a person who a group considers scum might see a poster for that event and think ‘there are going to be people in the library who want to attack me. I’d better avoid it.’ Or a library employee who is in the category scum (according to that group) may well feel understandably vulnerable as people get together in their workplace to decide the best way to dispose of her. …
I might have some books on the shelves that explain their thinking, but gathering in the library to promote hate? That’s a nope. Ironically, while some of the defense of the ‘hate groups’ inclusion seems to be ‘it’s only words,’ librarians also believe words are powerful; you can’t have it both ways.
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