I don’t tend to get into politics too much on this site. However, there has been much written in the last few days about a Time magazine article in which Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is quoted as questioning whether a book could be banned at the public library. The pertinent paragraph is:
Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. “She asked the library how she could go about banning books,” he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. “The librarian was aghast.” That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn’t be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving “full support” to the mayor.
Unfortunately, that’s all we learn about the situation.
I have a few questions: Was that all that was said? How did the librarian answer? Was the answer sufficient?
When I was the public library director in a small western city, I would get a variation on this question fairly regularly. The questioner was usually in a position of authority in the city or county – city council members, county board members, the city manager – and was usually as a result of a question or complaint that they had received from a constituent on a book that the library had. Once we discussed the function of a public library and collection development (as opposed to collection development at a school library), what steps the constituent could take to challenge a choice, and why all of this was important, the discussion was usually over.
We get none of this in the paragraph. We learn that the library director was threatened with being fired for not giving her “full support.” What does that mean? Was it over this issue or another?
Library professionals are about information – and not just pieces of it. Let’s get the whole story before we grab the pitchfolks pitchforks.