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Readingclubgate Revisited

A few weeks ago I wrote about Readingclubgate, where the director of a library was so dissatisfied that a child kept winning the summer book club competition that she wanted to change the rules of the game.

Instead of the winner being the person who read the most books, the winner would be the child whose name was picked out of a hat.

The librarian’s plot was foiled only when the news went public after a library aide told the child’s mother about it and the mother went to the press. She’d have never been caught if it weren’t for those meddling kids, she was probably heard muttering to herself. Or was it that the security guard found that tape over the door lock? Whatever.

There were a lot of comments suggesting numerous possible revisions of the reading club that would have shared the glory without focusing attention on the past winner.

Maybe some of those changes will be implemented by the new library director, because the old one isn’t working there anymore. It isn’t clear whether she was fired or resigned, but the negative publicity she received nationally for what she probably thought was a small local matter couldn’t have helped her employment situation.

Guess who also isn’t working at that library anymore? The library aide who spoke out about the strange policy change. The story’s available in several locations, but MSN is the only one with a headline that doesn’t falsely claim a librarian was fired. The local news site questions whether the 79-year-old library aide was fired because she exercised her freedom of speech.

Although we can’t know the truth of both the director and the library aide leaving, it seems plausible that they were both fired, one for bringing such negative attention to the library because of her own questionable actions, and the other for bringing attention to the questionable actions themselves.

The ALA Council has been bombarded of late by SRRT resolutions supporting whistleblowers, by which they mean people like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, who may or may not be whistleblowers, but who are definitely not librarians or library workers.

Maybe the SRRT will put forward a resolution supporting Lita Casey, an actual whistleblower in a library who has apparently been punished for it.

This isn’t quite as weird as the witch hunt in Minnesota a couple of weeks ago. That seems to have been a library administration going after a librarian for exercising some intellectual freedom, which librarians are supposed to think a good thing.

This case is less ironic because library board members usually aren’t librarians. You’d hope that library board members would be committed to the values of intellectual freedom and free speech, but then you’d hope education board members would be committed to education.

Such is not always the case, it seems.



  1. Whenever someone is terminated, those not directly involved don’t ever know the complete story. That being said, from reading about the incident and how it was handled (and it was handled badly) IMO the mom of the original winner also acted badly. At what point do your children learn that life ain’t fair, and some stuff just isn’t worth squabbling over. Was Tyler reading just to win the contest, or reading for the joy of reading? Does it matter?

    • The mom of the original winner acted badly by bringing attention to a ridiculous policy singling out her child that runs counter to everything a summer reading program is supposed to stand for?

      You’re seriously trying to blame the victim here? Ridiculous.

      Life isn’t fair. That’s a lesson we all have to learn at some point. Another important thing to learn is that it’s often the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. The kid was being unfairly singled out and mom absolutely did the right thing. Was she supposed to just roll over because it would be oh-so-impolite to call a bureaucratic bully out on their crap?

      Please. If someone is trying to stick it to you then stick it right back to’em.

    • @Andrew-sorry I don’t see someone that didn’t get a t-shirt as a victim. IMHO, there was bad behavior all around. The contest was structured poorly if the goal was to get children to read more and work towards a love of reading. That being said, poor structure or not, it appears the librarian handled the situation badly. I don’t have a problem with a parent standing up for a child, but I don’t think everything a child doesn’t get is a newsworthy matter either. Now two people are out of work (the specific reason is unknown except to the people who made the decisions) and in an time where funding for libraries is decreasing, this is how this particular library increased publicity about itself.

  2. Oh, for Heaven’s sake! This is supposed to be a READING club, not a grand prix event! Why is this even a contest? The whole point is to keep kids reading over the summer, not to see who can read the most the fastest. Instead of one prize winner, just give everyone who completes the program a free book. End of controversy. Sheesh.

  3. The purpose of reading clubs is for community outreach generally and to promote a love of reading in children specifically. That is far more important than gifts. So give a gift to every child who participates. Give a special gift to the child who wins. The point is to get kids reading. The library reported kids lost interest in reading during the summer because that boy kept winning the prize. THE prize? Come on! Gifts that make kids happy are very cheap. Get a treasure chest and let the kids pick what they like, and the winner still gets the special gift. Oriental Trading has them for a whopping $19.00. Is this that hard? @ Andrew’s free book idea is even better. And who told the kids the same kid keeps winning? And to fire people for this when a simple talking to will do? It’s not like they are brain surgeons and they just killed someone. AL is on target again, ALA is all in support of whistleblowers, so way isn’t ALA speaking out now? Oh sure what the director did was silly but it’s not a fireable offense. Nobody’s done anything that was fireable but was rightly overlooked? The world is perfect? Both people should get their jobs back. All the kids should get a gift. The winner should get a special gift. Case closed. Next?

  4. Ouch!

    Well, my money is still on the kid/parents were cheating. …and some people got fired over it.

    If that is true, the kid goes from a cheater to flat out evil.

    Yea yea, I know, “There is no proof the kid was cheating.”

    But, based on what you know, how would you call it? Be honest now….

  5. I believe summer reading is for summer reading – not contest. However, why do the adults in this story care so much about the winner? Isn’t the point that everyone was reading? Doesn’t the librarian and the aide know that in today’s economy it is difficult to get a job so handling problem in-house is a good idea for everyone. How about next year, we reward every reader with a sticker from the dollar store. Kids will be happy; parents will be happy; and the library won’t be out a lot of money for a program that is suppose to encourage reading not competition.

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