[Libs-Or] Display challenge

Steve Silver stevesilver673 at gmail.com
Sat Jun 12 13:37:42 PDT 2021

Rachael,  everything Matthew said seems spot on to me. In addition to his
helpful suggestions for resources and support, I would add that the OLA
Intellectual Freedom committee is also here to help in whatever way is
appropriate. I have copied Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenny and Perry Stokes, the IFC
co-chairs here. You can reach out to them directly, or reply to me (I am a
member of the committee).

A couple additional ideas to note: Have you had displays on topics that
would be things this patron would likely support? Pointing out that the
library provides displays on a variety of topics and viewpoints, similar to
the variety of topics and viewpoints in its collections, could potentially
help them see what it means to support ALL the groups within the community.
And hopefully you have a clear displays policy that sets out the rationale
for providing displays on a variety of topics/viewpoints and not avoiding
controversy (which is a form of self-censorship).

And do please report this challenge to the State Library Intellectual
Freedom Clearinghouse (https://libguides.osl.state.or.us/oifc/report). This
helps the State Library track challenges, and forwards challenges received
to ALA for its tracking as well.

Hope this is helpful. I or anyone from the IFC would be happy to have
further conversation if it would be helpful.

Challenges can be nerve-wracking, but stay calm, respond rationally and not
emotionally. Hear the patron's concerns, but stand firm on your
intellectual freedom principles. Best of luck

Steve Silver

On Sat, Jun 12, 2021 at 12:21 PM Matthew Baiocchi via Libs-Or <
libs-or at omls.oregon.gov> wrote:

> Hi, Rachael,
> Just the ramblings of a reference librarian on his day off, but this might
> be one way to approach it:
> I might start by agreeing with them that it is a community library, and
> since there are people who are LGBTQ in the Douglas County community, it is
> important to make sure they feel welcome in the community library.
> I'd continue with the fact that your library (at least based on the
> catalog searches I did) has materials on Islam, Christianity, atheism, the
> Vietnam War, white supremacy, Donald Trump, and Barack Obama, just to name
> a few potentially controversial subjects, and just because a subject is
> controversial in your community does not mean it isn't worth having
> materials on and promoting it in the library.
> I might wrap it up with the fact that the library is a place for people to
> feel comfortable exploring ideas, all people with many different lifestyles
> and beliefs, and it is especially important for the library to reach out to
> groups of people who have been, historically speaking, mistreated and
> discriminated against.
> I might add a little P.S. stating that the patron who wrote the letter
> doesn't need to subscribe to all the different beliefs found in all the
> different materials in the library, but that the Douglas County community
> has more than one point of view on people who are LGBTQ, and while the
> library would never demand that the author of the letter support people who
> are LGBTQ in their personal life, they need to understand that the library
> is there for the entire community, not just people with their beliefs.
> Thought that P.S. section might be a little too snarky?
> If none of this is helpful, you might be able to find some help through
> ALA here:
> https://www.ala.org/advocacy/diversity/librariesrespond/Services-LGBTQ or
> here: https://www.ala.org/rt/rrt. To get help from a more local source,
> I'm sure the good folks at the State Library of Oregon:
> https://www.oregon.gov/library/Pages/default.aspx and OLA:
> https://www.olaweb.org/  would be a big help, as they usually are.
> Best of luck in dealing with this prickly situation!
> Matthew Baiocchi
> __
> City of Lincoln City  *|*  Driftwood Public Library
> 801 SW Hwy 101 * |*  PO Box 50  *| * Lincoln City, OR
> *P:* 541.557.1116  *|*  *E**:* mbaiocchi at lincolncity.org
> *W: *Driftwoodlib.org *| **W**:* LincolnCity.org
> ------------------------------
> *From:* Libs-Or <libs-or-bounces at omls.oregon.gov> on behalf of Rachael
> Grindberg via Libs-Or <libs-or at omls.oregon.gov>
> *Sent:* Saturday, June 12, 2021 11:29 AM
> *To:* Association of Rural and Small Libraries Listserv; LIBS-OR
> *Subject:* [Libs-Or] Display challenge
> Hi all,
> Sorry for cross posting.
> I'm in need of help. Around the library we are displaying flags for pride
> month. Our actual book display is for Eric Carle since he died, and we are
> very small so only have room for one display. I got an email from a patron
> complaining about the flags. I tried searching online about how to respond
> to someone who complains about a display, but all of the responses have to
> do with books. I need to respond to this email diplomatically, but also
> tell her we aren't taking the flags down because she asked us to. The
> following is the email she sent:
> Dear Librarians,
> I was in the library today picking up a book.  I hesitated to say anything
> because I so appreciate the hard work of all the library volunteers and I
> did not want to offend anyone.  But as I have been thinking about how
> disturbing my experience was, I think that it may be helpful to you to know
> what caused my distress.  Gay flags, transgender flags, etc. flying
> everywhere.  It may be politically correct to celebrate gay behavior, but
> for many of us in Douglas county, it is no cause for celebration.  It is
> particularly disturbing because you have such a wonderful outreach to
> children.  It is child abuse to encourage children to destroy their health
> with untested hormonal treatments and to mutilate their beautiful bodies
> surgically. Furthermore, encouraging gay and lesbian relationships condemn
> the child to a life of being unable to have children of their own. I am not
> alone in my concerns.
> This is a community library and it is not helpful to alienate a large
> segment of the community if you want community support.
> Please reconsider your offensive advocacy of such a controversial issue.
> Any suggestions for how to respond to this email would be greatly
> appreciated.
> Thanks.
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