Monday, July 30, 2007

Ministry of Truth

Allison’s previous entry on control got me thinking about all of the tongue biting I have to do as a librarian. Every now and then I might be asked for books on astrology, or anything written by Sylvia Browne, and right then my rational thought process is screaming to take some jabs, but as a decent librarian, I must forfeit over the Dewey decimal numbers – tongue in teeth. It’s hardest, though, when ideology and morality become an issue. Recently, a patron asked me to help him find articles about counseling bisexuals into heterosexuality because he wanted to do exactly that. Sirens went off in my head immediately; I couldn’t agree with that practice any less.

I had a few options:

A: Give him a piece of my mind.
B: Pretend to do research and say I couldn’t find anything.
C: Find articles for him.

I went with option C, and developed a speech impediment. After all, I am a librarian working for the Kankakee Public Library, not the Ministry of Truth. My job is to allow access to information even if it is used for delusional, misguided, or misinformed purposes.

-Mitchell Haug

Disclaimer: This message has not been approved by the Ministry of Truth.


Blogger AdvocateForAll60901 said...

Is it right to refer to a patron of your library as "delusional, misguided" or otherwise "misinformed" for his beliefs? A person who is attempting to derail homosexuality is exercising the same rights you exercise when you condone it. We all have a right to pursue our values and beliefs, and patrons (who obviously DO read these blogs) should feel free to come to the library and do just that without fear of judgment from the staff. Sure you reluctantly helped him, but this blog says more about narrow-mindedness than "the customer is always right". It's not like he asked for help on how to be a child molester or axe murderer. He asked for info that may help someone struggling with gender-identity issues, which is a psychological disorder (see

9:29 AM  
Blogger Lions-Online said...

The point of this blog wasn't to argue my right to refuse the patron service, nor was it to argue his right to perform such practices. Also, if you must speak of narrow-mindedness, is it not the patron who is being narrow-minded here?


3:18 PM  
Blogger Melissa Landis said...

The American Library Association has a code of ethics that all library workers should abide by.

For your review, here are the most pertinent in regards to your post:

I. We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.

II. We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.

III. We protect each library user's right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.

IV. We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.

9:52 AM  
Blogger AdvocateForAll60901 said...


One must consider the podium at which one stands when voicing an opinion. Had your blog been on your personal webpage or some other venue that allowed for bias to be displayed, it would have been unremarkable. However, your blog appeared on a public library page of which you are an employee. You are giving off a terrible impression of the tolerance and objectivity of the library in which you work when you publicly blast a patron because of your differnce in personal beliefs. Narrow-mindedness is defined as "having or showing a prejudiced mind, as persons or opinions; biased". Are not your words portraying this behavior as much as the patron you are accusing of it?

11:59 AM  
Blogger Lions-Online said...

This text can be read at the very top of our blog: The opinions expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of the Kankakee Public Library, its board, or the City of Kankakee.

I chose to imbed my personal opinion in this blog to convey a point. One which seems to have been missed.

11:49 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home