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While we might look at the surface of this issue and take sides based upon whose 
agenda is being attacked, I think one of the major concerns I have is the idea that 
when a university librarian offers suggestions, he is being accused of 
harassment---the ideas within the books were not his own but those of the authors.  
It's not even clear if the librarian believes in the books' content. It's the 
assumption that because the librarian has personal beliefs, he is sharing those 
through the alternative titles he suggested to the professors.  

If librarians don't have the freedom to offer suggestions (and we all have our 
opinions, ideas, and personal choices even if we don't think we do), then what 
happens when we make choices for the library collection?  How many of us have a 
"clearly balanced" collection on all topics that might be offensive to others?  If 
we inherit a library are we responsible for the choices made by previous librarians 
that offer alternative solutions, ideas or content?

I think the ACRL (American Colleges and Research Libraries) blog is also concerned 
for the freedom of choice that is being attacked, but more importantly the freedom 
of librarians being able to offer suggestions for alternative titles.  Their 
comments seem to question how this might affect public concern is 
how will this trickle down to the school library?

If we look beyond the smaller issues (who's bringing the lawsuit) and think about 
the bigger issue--- offering choices and voicing options---then we might begin to 
see that this is not just about a "Christian librarian" asking professors to offer 
alternatives to the freshman reading list.  It's about ANY librarian (you or I) 
offering alternatives to students---regardless of their personal beliefs.  Options 
are just that...options.  If they are required that's one thing (which is what the 
professors want)...but options or alternatives offer a different viewpoint and 
that's what WE protect in our libraries.

Regardless of where you live, if you are the one who is "radical" within your 
library / community / school, then YOU might be the one who is facing a lawsuit if 
you offer / make suggestions for topics that go against the standards within the 
community.  In this case, the "community standards" were set by the university and 
the professors.  This librarian offered choices that were against those standards 
(or challenged those standards OR made others feel uncomfortable about the 
choices).  He was then attacked because his options made others feel uncomfortable 
and the fact that the books suggested were not "controversial" enough....obviously, 
they ARE controversial if they've stimulated a lawsuit.  Too bad the professors 
didn't see this option as a way to have a lively debate within the classroom.....

If we don't ask "what if" now....we may be asking "why" later.  My question is not 
who is bringing the lawsuit and what "spin" they might take with this but rather IS 
THIS what happens when librarians provide a balanced collection, an alternative to 
the "norm", or stand-up against the popular belief that "we have always done it 
this way because..."

I'm not flaming anyone....I'm just asking the profession to think beyond the 
initial situation and ask "how would this affect me?"  WILL this one day affect me? 
 Will I have the voice  (or the strength) to stand up against those who challenge 
others' choices within the academic environment or will I "go with the flow" 
because the path of least resistance is the easiest route to take today?

(Sorry, it's just one of those days....I had to "rabblerouse" a little...)


Shonda Brisco, MLIS
US / Technology Librarian
4200 Country Day Lane
Fort Worth Country Day School
Fort Worth, TX
817.732.7718 ext. 339

"We can't wait for somebody outside of ourselves to rescue us, because nobody is 
coming to the rescue..." 
 ~ Ross Todd, Professor
School of Communications, Information, and Library Studies, Rutgers University

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