Let’s examine two interesting cases of kooks and Fanatics having negative impacts on libraries and/or the image of librarians.
Bonners Ferry, Idaho–Right Wing Fanatics Drive Library Director From Her Job
“For months, a group of conservative Christians have inundated the staff and board of a public library in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, with complaints about books they didn’t want to see on the shelves.
“Their list of more than 400 titles predominantly focuses on young adult books with LGBTQ characters, scenes describing sexual activity or invoking the occult.
“The only problem: None of the books are in the library’s collection….
“We want a strongly written policy that will not allow the library to order materials with sex acts,” the group stated on Facebook this month, adding that the American Library Association “has brainwashed our libraries” into believing this is a First Amendment issue.
This group apparently became so threatening and intense that the POLICE had to start sitting in at library board meetings. Did I miss something? Is America’s potato supply being hijacked by the Taliban?
Here’s a fascinating link to the actual Board meeting, posted on Facebook (skip to 23:00 for some really revealing stuff): https://www.facebook.com/kristina.francis.37/videos/2425836867571040
Here is a bit of Lawfare that the group is engaging in: Tort Claim Against the Library
Then, a few thousand miles (and an entire world) away, one finds this:
Daily Mail: Prep School Librarian Works as Hard as Possible to Alienate Parents
“Conley-Abrams is known to visit in classrooms to teach, according to The Post, and even appeared on a 2020 panel titled Talking to Children about Anatomy, Gender, Sexuality, Puberty and Pregnancy geared at discussing the topics with pre-k through first graders.
‘Ingrid was introduced as a ‘gender expert’ on the panel, which was weird enough to begin with but is typical of what’s going down at New York City private schools,’ one mother said, ‘Why is a librarian also a ‘gender expert’? And why is there a panel about talking about gender and sex and pregnancy to four and five-year-olds?’
In May 2021 parents complained about a workshop at the school titled ‘Pornography Literacy: An intersectional focus on mainstream porn,’ which consisted of an explicit slide-show presentation shown to 120 students.
The presentation talked about how porn satisfies ‘three big male vulnerabilities,’ showed statistics about the ‘orgasm gap’ showing how straight women have fewer orgasms than lesbian women, and showed half-nude women in bondage gear to explore the difference between porn and art.
According to The Post, the lecture included a list of the 2019 most-searched porn terms such as ‘anal,’ ‘stepmom,’ and ‘gangbang.’
Remember when the school librarian did things like sponsor the Library Club and supervise the shelvers? And, you know, run the library?
Consider this: if you find it difficult to see these two approaches to libraries and/or librarianship as equally destructive to the idea and ideal of what it means to govern a library or be a librarian, you’re a kook. If you think one of these two approaches is okay or acceptable or desirable, well, you’re a Fanatic. I’m betting the vast majority of people who will find this blog entry will struggle to see how people can sympathize with the antagonizing parties in either story above. That’s good! But these stories serve as a warning. The threats to the profession are both external AND internal.