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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

'I want the library to be there for everyody, not just people who share my voting record'

When a patron donated a book questioning "the transgender craze" to the Blue Hill Public Library, librarian Rich Boulet decided "it filled a hole in our collection" and put it on the shelves, reports Elizabeth Williamson in the New York Times. He took a lot of flak for it in the small, very liberal Maine town.


Journalist Abigail Shrier's Irreversible Damage charges that the enormous surge in teenage girls seeking hormones and surgery is largely a fad spread by trans influencers. "Gender-affirming care" is like telling an anorexic teen to consider liposuction and weight-loss programs," she writes.


"Many transgender people and their advocates say the book is harmful to trans youth, and some have tried to suppress its distribution," writes Williamson.



The book's thesis doesn't match Boulet's own views. But, he said, “I want the library to be there for everybody, not just people who share my voting record.”


"Residents who objected to the book confronted him, library staffers and board members in the grocery store, post office and the library itself," writes Williamson. He was attacked on social media. A patron told it would be "on you" if a trans youth checked out the book and then committed suicide.


“They would say ‘I can’t believe that the library is allowing this,’” said John Diamond, the library board president. “My feeling was, ‘I can’t believe the library would not allow it, based on its position on free access to information.’”

Boulet asked the American Library Association (ALA) for a public letter of support, which it routinely offers to libraries facing censorship campaigns, but heard nothing. "They ghosted me," he told the reporter.


Librarian Rich Boulet

In an interview with the Times, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, said the request "had generated internal debate, and delay," writes Williamson. The ALA's conclusion was that the book "should remain in the collection . . . We need to support intellectual freedom in all its aspects, in order to claim that high ground.”


Months after the librarian asked for support, she writes, Caldwell-Stone saw him at a conference and apologized.


Librarians tend to be less vigorous in defending diversity of viewpoint than in defending books featuring diverse identities, write Catherine Simpson and Todd Kyle on the FAIR site.


When challenged books question "an oppression-based narrative, or present a more heterodox analysis, many librarians defend them only reluctantly, often loudly proclaiming their personal objection to the works," they write. Sometimes, they "fail to defend them at all, instead publicly branding the works as 'harmful,' thereby foreclosing the possibility of wider public understanding and debate."

1 comentario


deirdre.mundy
26 feb

The ALA has been a total joke ever since it refused to support the Cuban librarians because the organization loved Castro too much to admit he could be wrong about anything….

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