Librarians have a lot to contend with, what with shrinking budgets and the likelihood of encountering people who don’t bathe regularly. It’s a rough life.
In upstate New York, they also have to contend with busybody library trustees who apparently don’t know that libraries are for everyone, not just the narrow-minded. At least they did until the trustee resigned the position. Now she’s just an ordinary busybody.
The article profiles a former library trustee who resigned after posting a letter on the official website of a town where she serves as assessor. The letter complained about “objectionable materials” in the library.
It seems odd that a town’s official website could be used for this sort of personal issue, but the town has only a couple thousand people living in it, so complaining about the library promoting witchcraft is probably the most exciting thing going on.
According to the article, “In the letter, Ann Balch said her Christian beliefs do not allow her to support:
- The viewing of pornography on library computers.
- The promotion of homosexuality, especially in the children’s department.
- The promotion of witchcraft in the young adult’s section.
- The promotion of the Muslim religion without also promoting Christianity as an alternative.”
Oh my, that’s quite a list of complaints. Apparently her Christian beliefs make her incapable of distinguishing between a library having a book on Islam and “promotion of the Muslim religion.” No, wait, that’s probably something besides her Christian beliefs, or a lack of something.
Most of the complaints sound downright silly. Books on homosexuality becomes “promoting homosexuality.” And it’s even worse in the children’s department, because that woman knows how people become homosexuals. They read books about it, and then they turn all gay and stuff. Can’t let that happen.
Then they read Harry Potter and become witches, because…well, just because!
After becoming homosexual witches, it’s a natural next step to reading about “the Muslim religion” and becoming Muslims. I’m surprised she didn’t complain promoting “Mohammedanism.” And apparently there are absolutely no books in that library mentioning Christianity, so that can’t be “promoted” as an alternative.
Now that there are a bunch of homosexual Muslim witches, they turn to porn. Porn in the library is a serious complaint, at least if it’s in the children’s section. Is it? Here’s the complaint:
“My main concern is the pornography,” Balch said. “They don’t have any filter on the computers. I recently went to the library and typed in some things, I’m not a pornography viewer, but I typed in some things and saw more that I ever need to see again. It happened within a minute.”
I would love to know what she was searching where she started getting unwanted porn. I do a heck of a lot of Internet searching, and I almost never get porn unless I want it. Plus, given the default filters on Google and Bing, you’d have to both change the defaults and do some dedicated keyword searching before you got anything too awful.
Unless of course you went searching for porn using a library computer to say that you’ve done it, which is always a possibility.
The problem here is that, according to the library, computers in the children’s section are filtered, and there’s no indication that children are wandering around in the adult section watching sleazy men surf porn. So there’s nothing illegal or even immoral going on.
And notice she didn’t say she saw anything inappropriate going on, only that she did some searches and found porn. Sounds like the only person surfing for porn in the library is her. Instead of whining about it, she should ask the reference librarian how to do an effective Internet search.
The complaint gets weirder. Supposedly, “prior to becoming a library trustee, she felt the library was a place to find books to educate one’s self.”
Is there any indication whatsoever that this library isn’t still a place to find books for educational purposes? Heck, you can even find out about Muslims if you want to. Crazy stuff!
The confusion about what and who libraries are for and, apparently, what reading and education are for makes me think this woman isn’t a big library user. Another clue is in the letter: “Because of a local library around the corner of my home in seventh grade, I learned to read.” So, has she used the library since then?
Other indications make her motives suspicious. She claims she wanted to be a library trustee because she wanted to find out how the library was spending its money, and only now does she think the town shouldn’t support the library at all. I suspect she might have been anti-library all along.
Of the $580,000 the library gets from surrounding communities to operate, her town contributed $7,271 in 2013. That’s about as close to not supporting the library as you can get. $3 per person per year seems a small price to pay for library access, even considering the strong chance that all the children of Caton will become porn-watching, homosexual, Muslim witches.
There are a lot of things about libraries and the world in general to complain about, but when someone is really complaining that not everyone in the world thinks and acts like she does, the best response is to smile widely and slowly back away. No point arguing with people like that.