Support for Dayton Library collection
September 22, 2022
To the editor,
I read the following statement at the meeting of the Columbia County Board of Trustees on Monday, September 19:
I have a master’s degree in library science from the University of Washington, and I was the branch manager of the Dayton Memorial library. In that capacity, I was in charge of collection development for the children’s materials, and then for the whole library. I’d like to commend Todd on prioritizing an inclusive collection that reflects the diverse experiences of the youth in our community. and for having good policies in place that avoid further erosion of our freedom of self-expression.
The librarian’s job is to provide resources to the whole community without judgment. It is my job as a parent to decide which resources are appropriate for my child. Some of the topics I think are appropriate are going to be different from other parents’ and vice versa. That means that not everything in the library is going to be for me, and that’s ok. It’s important that diverse books be included in the collection and promoted without shame or stigma attached. Restricting access to these materials doesn’t protect children from complex issues, it only means they will turn to less reliable and more dangerous sources of information.
I understand the concerns over some of the material that’s been posted online. I wouldn’t want my 6-year-old to read some of those passages either. I wouldn’t check that book out for her and there’s little chance that she’d accidentally pick it up because the good news is that my 6-year-old isn’t allowed in the library without supervision. And for good reason. The public library isn’t any safer than any other public place.
I do think that the teen section could use some physical delineation from the children’s section. Maybe an appropriate solution would be to move the teen library or put some architectural separation between it and the children’s library. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request.
What I do think is unreasonable is for a small group of vocal activists to dictate the books all our children have access to. I disagree that ideas in these books are causing harm. I don’t support their removal or the effective banning of these books by restricting access. I reject the idea that a book on a shelf is “grooming” children. I reject the idea that a book about institutional racism in America is somehow going to indoctrinate Dayton’s white children with some kind of liberal agenda. Books are about expanding your base of knowledge. If a book makes you see an issue from someone else’s point of view, that’s a good thing in my opinion.
I think that Todd and this board understand what is at stake for the youth of our community, how they feel about themselves and each other, and whether or not they have the resources they need to navigate a treacherous world safely. I trust that they will listen to everyone and do what is best for the WHOLE community.