Magazine article American Libraries

What They Said

Magazine article American Libraries

What They Said

Article excerpt

"To include a few mild pro-gay or gay-acknowledging books in the children's collection or elsewhere hardly shifts the ideological heft of most libraries toward some sort of liberal utopia. To the contrary, it simply begins to serve and represent members of the reading community who until very recently were forced to be invisible. This, it seems obvious, should be one of the librarian's primary goals.... No, libraries cannot be neutral, but we should strive to be sure that they are as capacious as possible."

J. BRYAN LOWDER, assistant editor, on how the lack of LGBTQ-affirming books (in libraries and on other shelves) reflects an ideological choice, responding to the Illinois Family Institute's assertion that librarians and anticensorship advocates are "ridiculing" parents who don't want their children exposed to books on controversial topics, including "sexual perversion," in "Should Libraries Stock Anti-Gay Books?" Slate, Sept. 5.

"While raising a child can take a proverbial village, for me it took a library. I began reading at the age of 5 and had traveled from the Alps (Heidi) to Atlanta (Gone with the Wind) to England (Jane Eyre) by the age of 10. While all were influential, I read the most life-changing book when I was 48."

JAN KARON, author of Somewhere Safe with Someone Good, on how reading Village Diary by Dora Saint inspired her to escape the "bonds of the ad world" and "patch together a village of [her] own," in "The Book that Changed My Life," AARP The Magazine, Aug./Sept. 2014.

"Libraries have always been a place to access rare, hard-to-find objects. Commercial books aren't rare, hard-to-find objects anymore, so library collections are being used in different ways. We use Big Data--which in the library world is just called data--to analyze what items are in demand across the system."

ELI NEIBURGER, deputy director, Ann Arbor (Mich.) Public Library, on libraries broadening their collections to include tools like sledgehammers and hacksaws as well as lawn mowers, cake pans, and knitting needles to meet community needs--especially during the economic downturn, when patrons are more reluctant to make big purchases themselves, in "Taking a Long-Overdue Sledgehammer to the Public Library," Fast Company, Sept. 9.

"What we probably mean when we say 'neutral' is that we value providing access to multiple interpretations and believe that people should be allowed to make up their own minds. …

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