As some of you who pay attention to such things know, I write LJ's How Do You Manage column, and have been for about ten years now. It's kinda sticky because I'm not a librarian and have never worked in a library. I'm just a guy who can put one word in front of the other in a way that makes sense (most of the time, anyway). I create these sticky little situations, and don't know if I'm off the mark or not.
For the June 1 column, I wrote a scenario about librarians being forbidden to speak to the press or write anything for publication or public consumption—everything from ALA panel speeches to book reviews—without their material first being vetted by their supervisor. The librarians, of course, are rightly pissed off and bitching to their director, who hates the idea as much as they do.
But not all directors are alike.
Along comes this pleasant little story from California's Riverside Library, where director Barbara Custen reportedly has forbid her staff from talking to the media and patrons about the library's policies. The memo sent to staff informing them to shut up says "it is not appropriate, nor acceptable, for staff other than the Department Head to speak with the media or customers regarding policies…deviations from this policy will be cause for discipline." Isn't that nice.
So, I guess my How Do You Manage story isn't off the mark at all.
Custen swears that she is "not in any way trying to stifle the staff's freedom of speech" (it doesn't work both ways, lady, the staff can talk or they can't) and admits that the "words in the memo could have been chosen better." Gee, ya think?