Friday, May 09, 2008

Can librarianship be conservative? I don't think so.

I've recently become acquainted with someone who wants to change the library profession. 

She's not a first-adopter. Rather she's conservative and wants librarianship values to be more in line with her personal ones. She reads Shush and other blogs listed in the sidebar there.

I understand some things about conservatism, and occasionally I share some of those views. 

I am not, however, a fan of President Bush, nor do I think that the United States is infallible in its national policies.

And I am staunchly liberal as a librarian. I believe in the right to read whatever, the right to listen to whatever. People who complain that we let youth check out R-rated movies don't understand that the ratings are NOT the law--they're self-imposed by the motion picture industry--including theaters. And I'd prefer that people who complain about this educate themselves about what their kids are watching.

Sometimes a PG-13 movie has violence that is more disturbing than a few cuss-words and a full-frontal.

My new acquaintance would like to impose restrictions in public libraries for this purpose. She thinks that when we don't, her values are being dismissed. 

I'll say that's all well and good for a private library, maybe a private school library or a church or synagogue library. But in a public library, we are open to all sorts of viewpoints. That is the beauty of liberalism: Liberals will support a conservative's right to her/his opinion and values and the public library is the place--both physically and symbolically where this support is most evident.

And so, I am wondering, if there are more like my new acquaintance out there and will they try to change the profession? Do they know that they shoot themselves in the foot if they impose restrictions on the right to read? Because first it's the right to read. Then it's the right to think for oneself.

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