[Libs-Or] Tuesday Topic: Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Intellectual Freedom

Max Macias max.macias at gmail.com
Tue Jan 7 07:07:39 PST 2020

 When Someone Claims The Right to Terrorize their Fellow Citizens


On Tue, Dec 24, 2019 at 1:45 PM Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney <
kbrodbeck-kenney at lincolncity.org> wrote:

> December 2019 Tuesday Topic: Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and
> Intellectual Freedom
> Welcome to Tuesday Topics, a monthly series covering topics with
> intellectual freedom implications for libraries of all types. Each message
> is prepared by a member of OLA's Intellectual Freedom Committee or a guest
> writer. Questions can be directed to the author of the topic or to the IFC
> Committee.
> Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Intellectual Freedom
> Libraries are increasingly recognizing the need to ensure that principles
> of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are central to their mission.
> Often, in discussion of EDI matters, however, intellectual freedom is
> rhetorically placed in opposition to those values. Just this month, the
> Chief Librarian of the Seattle Public Library, Marcellus Turner, released a
> statement
> <https://www.spl.org/about-us/the-organization/leadership/a-message-from-the-chief-librarian>
> about an anti-transgender group making use of the library’s meeting space,
> saying, “We have heard from patrons who believe we should not let this
> event happen in a Library space due to the group’s views. We have heard
> from others who say that not allowing this event to happen will endanger
> the Library’s founding principle of intellectual freedom.”
> And it is true that at times there is tension between these values, as
> Meredith Farkas describes in her November 1, 2018 “In Practice” column for
> American Libraries, “When Values Collide: Reconciling our commitments
> when hate speech is involved.
> <https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/11/01/when-values-collide/>”
> There are no easy answers when the presence of a group in the library may
> cause other patrons, particularly patrons from historically marginalized
> groups, to feel endangered.
> However, the same legal precedents that make situations like the above
> fraught, also help ensure that marginalized and underrepresented groups are
> able to access these same meeting spaces, and protect the library’s ability
> to continue to offer diverse programming in the community. Recently, a Drag
> Queen Story Hour in St. Mary’s County, Maryland
> <https://www.fox5dc.com/news/planned-drag-queen-story-hour-drawing-mixed-reaction-in-st-marys-county>,
> held by an outside group in the library’s meeting room space, attracted
> protests
> <https://smnewsnet.com/archives/456835/leonardtown-man-sentenced-to-10-days-in-jail-for-arrest-at-drag-queen-story-hour-at-lexington-park-library/>
> and required a police presence to ensure the safety of attendees and
> library staff. In response, the St. Mary’s County Commission removed funds
> from the library’s budget to pay for this increased security presence,
> telling the library staff that “they should avoid having such controversial
> events and that their funding may be affected if they continued to have
> controversial events.” This prompted a strongly worded statement from the
> Maryland Attorney General
> <https://smnewsnet.com/archives/463527/attorney-general-releases-statement-on-charging-library-for-police-presence-at-drag-queen-stories-event/>
> citing case law demonstrating that the actions on the part of the County
> Commissioners were unconstitutional. The decision to financially penalize
> the library has since been reversed.
> However, the values of intellectual freedom and EDI don’t “just happen” to
> coincide in cases like the above. As is stated in Equity, Diversity, and
> Inclusion: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,
> <http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill/interpretations/EDI>
> “equity, diversity, and inclusion are central to the promotion and practice
> of intellectual freedom.”
> If a library patron is further marginalized or denied access due to their
> background, financial status, abilities, race, or other factors, it follows
> that their freedom to freely read and access information is being directly
> impinged. This is most obvious in the historical context of segregation
> of libraries in the Jim Crow South,
> <https://www.proquest.com/blog/pqblog/2018/The-Hidden-History-of-Segregation-in-Libraries.html>
> but also serves as a powerful reminder that libraries must be alert to
> creating barriers through inequitable policies, as well as to actions from
> publishers and vendors (as in the case of the recent Macmillan embargo
> <https://www.npr.org/2019/11/01/775150979/you-may-have-to-wait-to-borrow-a-new-e-book-from-the-library>)
> that worsen access for our patrons. A diverse collection that reflects a
> wide range of life experiences, as well as programming and policies that
> are inclusive of the entire community are central to both EDI and
> intellectual freedom work, as well -- and a review of books and programs challenged
> in Oregon <https://libguides.osl.state.or.us/oifc/reports> demonstrates
> that it is often the voices of underrepresented and marginalized people who
> are directly challenged.
> Ultimately, just as intellectual freedom is a central value in
> librarianship, so too is EDI -- and they are inextricably linked.
> Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney
> Director, Driftwood Public Library
> Co-Chair, Oregon Intellectual Freedom Committee
> ALA Chapter Councilor
>  [image: 1529519400927_PastedImage]
> Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney, MLIS
> __
> City of Lincoln City  *|*  Driftwood Public Library
> 801 SW Hwy 101 * |*  PO Box 50  *| * Lincoln City, OR
> *P:* 541.996.1251  *|*  *E**:* kbrodbeck-kenney at lincolncity.org
> *W: *Driftwoodlib.org *| **W**:* LincolnCity.org
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