May 2, 2012

Librarian Problems

Librarians have to deal with a lot.  Part of that includes people saying "it must be nice to sit around all day and read."  That's not what we do.  Part of being a librarian is making tough decisions.

A library is supposed to provide equal access to all information.  Well, what about super racist and prejudiced books? What about books that proclaim that the world is flat?  Or books that insist homosexuality is a disease that can be cured?

As a super liberal gal, I believe know that all of the above is wrong, but there are those who fervently believe in all of that and it's not a librarian's job to correct them.  Librarians are just supposed to provide them with the materials. Sad, but true.

But, we also have to make sure that our collections serve the needs of our community.  So, what happens when your library is smack dab in the middle of a KKK nesting area?  Do you make sure all of the civil rights books are locked away? Do you even have them available? If you do have these books on the shelves and they are stolen or vandalized to prevent others from using them, do you replace them, or use the library budget elsewhere? #SOMANYPROBLEMS!!!

That's an extreme example, yes, but issues like this are common.  Arizona schools banned ethnic studies, so should libraries contain these materials to help the students who lose out? [Yes] Schools in Tennessee aren't allowed to discuss homosexuality in grades K-8.  Should these students have access to books like And Tango Makes Three or Heather Has Two Mommies? [Yes]  Should libraries in secular towns hold titles that discuss intelligent design? [Yes]  It's difficult to find an appropriate balance of materials, but it's necessary because there is supposed to be something for everyone. 

So no, we don't get to sit around and read all day.  We have to think about this type of issue to make sure everyone is happy.  #librarianproblems


  1. This is something I'd never really thought of. Do you know how people have dealt with things like that historically? I imagine it must be really rough in certain situations.

  2. Individual books are challenged all over the place, but I only know of other people's anecdotes regarding certain subjects being "iffy" in their libraries. But it's definitely something that comes up every now and then. Some libraries have it built into their policies that they won't provide certain information (i.e. some super religious school libraries won't hold anti-religion material/material that promotes other religions).

    Most public libraries say int their policies that they will provide access to everything, but it can be a sticky situation, especially because the people's taxes are paying for the materials. People who are anti-gay marriage certainly don't want their taxes going to pay for pro-gay marriage materials. So it's tough. =\

    1. My question, honestly, is who is going to get their panties in a twist over this? I guess there are some nutjobs out there who patrol their libraries for things they don't agree with, but still. I'm guessing it's a bigger problem in small towns (at least the homophobia thing) but I guess every library probably has its own issues.