I feel like now is as good a time as ever to remind everyone that libraries are for you. I mean to say ‘Libraries are for everyone,’ so if you identify as one of every, then we are for you.
Sometimes, people forget this. Sometimes, those people are local elected officials that share an image of a flier on their Facebook page advertising LGBTQ+ reading material and movies, along with the caption, “Now available from your tax payer [sic] funded library system.”
Yes, of course we have those books and movies, because we serve everyone in our community – unlike politicians who seem to primarily serve their base. As far as where this flier came from, I can’t claim ownership of that, but rest assured that we have had similar displays in our building, especially during Pride month.
It is this organization’s mission “to foster literacy and intellectual growth in our diverse community by providing free and equal access to programs, services, and collections.” Limiting our selection of materials to one perspective would violate our own mission. Are there books here that I, as a human, find objectionable? You better believe it! But are we getting rid of them? No! Because we are a community center, and libraries – say it with me – are for EVERYONE.
This is not my first experience with challenged books in our building, but this is my first experience with a local politician questioning the very mission of our organization. Normally, I try to be neutral in politics, but staying silent could have implied I agreed with their opinion.
In order for everyone in our community to feel welcome in our building, buying books and distributing fliers isn’t enough. Today, I am writing this column not to change the minds of our elected officials, but to reassure those of you that feel targeted by their actions for your very identity. You are welcome here, because libraries are for everyone.
Connect with/complain to Travis Olivera at the Hamilton Public Library by phone at (315) 824-3060 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or in person at the library.