Library Not Immune to Racism

I don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll just come right out and say it.  There is an element of racism and bigotry that exists in Hamilton and it needs to stop.  This is not a joke. It is something I have witnessed first-hand on multiple occasions, and I’ve only been here since January.  

Twice in the last month, white supremacist propaganda has been left in our entryway, which up until recently had been a place for the community to share flyers and information.  Another time, a patron complained to us about our book display celebrating the Jewish holiday of Passover. Last week, it was reported that Colgate had a problem with racist and discriminatory graffiti.  

So what can we do about it?  After the first incident on I tweeted “To the unnamed patron who dropped off white supremacy material in our community flyer area: Thanks, we’ve been meaning to clear out some of those outdated community resources anyway…”  After the second incident we converted the community flyer space into a book sale room. And now, with what happened at Colgate still fresh in everyone’s memory, I’m using this column to bring this to everyone’s attention. Ignoring the situation will do nothing to prevent it from happening again.

Other than these few incidents, the community has been very welcoming to me and a pleasure to work with.  I mean no offense to anyone I have dealt with personally.

While those who left racist propaganda may be hiding behind the First Amendment, this isn’t about free speech, it’s about hate speech.  Hateful rhetoric prevents others from being comfortable within our walls and has no place in a community center.

Libraries are for everyone, and we intend to keep it that way.  How? Talking about it is a great start. If you have any other ideas, I’m all ears.

Connect with Travis L. Olivera at the Hamilton Public Library by phone at (315) 824-3060 or by email at

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4 Responses to Library Not Immune to Racism

  1. Barbara Hobbie says:

    Thanks for bringing this matter to public attention. The most recent library initiative(the Fred Wiseman Film on the NY Public Library, etc.) was very inspiring–highlighting the role of the library and its people in promoting civic life, civility and enlightenment. Well wishes on your work on behalf of our community and inclusivity.

  2. Lorraine says:

    Thanks for your timely and appropriate letter. Such hateful material cannot be ignored and I applaud your direct confrontation of it.

  3. Sarah Goldstein says:

    Well said. I never saw it in the entry way, but I did notic the book area. Good response 😀😀😀

  4. Stephanie McClintick says:

    Thank you for letting the community know that this has happened. I will certainly let people know about this because getting this behavior into the open to be condemned is a good start.

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