A non-library friend sent this to me this morning (Thanks Zena!). Jamie Laure posted his response to patron challenge of the kids book Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah Brannen. He stated that his reasoning behind sharing this was that he anticipated that this book would be challenged a lot this year, in many libraries.
I like his opening paragraph. Obviously he’s American, but I like how he references the relevant policy documents:
The intent of providing all that isn’t just to occupy your time. It’s to demonstrate that our lay Board of Trustees –- which has reviewed and adopted these policies on behalf of our library — has spent time thinking about the context in which the library operates, and thoughtfully considered the occasional discomfort (with our culture or constituents) that might result. There’s a lot to consider.
His letter goes on to reply to the various objections that the patron has. In the 3 hours that was spent on intellectual freedom in library school I was taught that the best approach is to not engage in the specifics of the argument, but rather to focus on the broader policy issues and the broader theme of intellectual freedom. I think his letter is really thoughtful, sincere, polite and effective. I dislike receiving pat responses to complaints that I made. What do you think?
I like the conclusion too:
Finally, then, I conclude that “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” is a children’s book, appropriately categorized and shelved in our children’s picture book area. I fully appreciate that you, and some of your friends, strongly disagree with its viewpoint. But if the library is doing its job, there are lots of books in our collection that people won’t agree with; there are certainly many that I object to. Library collections don’t imply endorsement; they imply access to the many different ideas of our culture, which is precisely our purpose in public life.
Would you be willing to share some of the letters you’ve written in response to challenges in your library? Would seeing how other libraries have delt with challenges and being able to read their responses be helpful for you?