I’m a big reader and the library is a regular part of my week. In the past year, I’ve noticed a trend at the branch I frequent, Ross-Cherry Creek. Signs about inclusion began to proliferate. Stickers appeared declaring the library a “safe place” for LGBTQ people. I questioned such signage because it implies the library is a “safe space” where everyone is accepted, whereas the outside world is not. It struck me as fear- mongering and not a little ironic, considering that the location of this branch is in one of the most affluent areas of town, with likely a low crime rate.
The sign that pushed me over the edge was one declaring “We all belong,” sponsored, in part, by Jewish Voice for Peace. I wrote a letter to the head librarian explaining to her that JVP is a radical political NGO and I questioned why political groups were present, at all, in a library, which is supposed to be a non-political institution.
The sign was removed the following day. The librarian apologized for its appearance and said it had been “unsanctioned.” She also explained that the LGBTQ sticker was part of a larger police campaign to raise awareness.
For me, a library is about providing books. We as patrons have the privilege of reading those books to educate ourselves. For example, if one wants to address anti-LGBTQ bias, why not display a memoir or novel on the topic? When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is certainly no shortage of books that could be displayed instead of putting up a poster sponsored by a political NGO.
A library, as the temple of free thought, should be the last place where people are literally messaged on how they should think.
Shana Goldberg may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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