[Libs-Or] Display challenge

Emily O'Neal emilyo at dpls.lib.or.us
Mon Jun 14 11:55:01 PDT 2021

Hi Rachel (and all),
I am writing on behalf of the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Committee.  Thanks so much for reaching out to the OLA community to ask about this challenge and to seek some advice.  The OIFC agrees with many of the suggestions offered here, and we felt it pertinent to chime in a bulleted list of suggested talking points and next steps.  

We do recognize that the customer interaction and response provided will be different for different circumstances.  As one of our committee members, Steve Silver put is so clearly:   

"It's not a one-size-fits-all situation. Some folks would be in a position to hear [a more detailed explanation]. For others, just keeping it simple (and non-confrontational) will be best. I think it calls for sensitivity and awareness of where the patron is on that scale for each individual interaction. Only the local librarian involved with that patron/community can best judge what the patron can or cannot handle and what the best level of information to share would be most helpful."

That said, we share the following list of possible talking points to respond: 

.	Point to display policy (if one exists).  Could also possibly reference program or collection development policy as applicable
.	Keep it short option. Example: "The library will continue to represent and include everyone in the community"
.	If appropriate, address misinformation. Example: "the library is not advocating for any specific medical treatment for children, we are advocating inclusiveness for all people in Douglas County and have chosen to display these flags to acknowledge the nationally-recognized occasion of Pride Month."
.	If appropriate to a longer response:
o	Remind the customer that the library is a place for all members of the community, including the LGBTQ individuals in Douglas County
o	Remind the customer that the library is a place for people to explore ideas, learn about different lifestyles and beliefs. Introduce the concept of mirrors and windows.
o	Remind the customer that the library provides a wide variety of information and concepts within its collections, displays and programs and that in providing that information, the library is not subscribing to any one platform or belief, nor is it asking for support one way or another from its customers. 

This is a great reminder to all that one of the best practices for managing challenges includes having and maintaining policies on how selections are made within your library.  Just as many libraries have a Collection Development Policy, it is also pertinent to have a programing policy, a display policy and a services policy.  Having these in place makes managing challenges much easier, as you can clearly outline how decisions are made, as well as defend those decisions with a written document your library follows. 

The IFC hopes that these suggestions help, and we are here to support any other questions or challenges that may come up.  If you need more support from the IFC, please reach out via email to ifc.chair at olaweb.org. 

Oregon Intellectual Freedom Committee

Emily O'Neal (541) 617-7061  emilyo at deschuteslibrary.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.


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