The American Library Association has again ignored the plight of a librarian who acted in the best interests of the community. In doing so it has covered up that its policies are often reflected in local library policies, and those local policies sometimes defy local law, community standards, and common sense.
Scott Savage got ignored by the ALA after he was accused of discrimination for recommending a balance of political viewpoints in a college freshmen reading list. Brenda Biesterfeld is getting ignored by the ALA after she violated ALA-style local library policy by reporting criminal activity to the police.
The Scott Savage story from Ohio State University is best told by the victim himself. Please read "Persecuted Librarian Censored Again," by Scott Savage, 9 May 2006. Mr. Savage has filed suit to right this wrong, no help from the ALA, of course. See "The Columbus Dispatch : Librarian Sues OSU to Get His Job Back." As one author put it, "Predictably, as the Virginia Tech librarian told WND, 'the American Library Association has had an incredible silence about Scott Savage. Here's a librarian under attack for recommending a book!'" See 'Marketing of Evil' Locked Out of College Libraries; Bestselling Book Stocked Only in Fraction of Facilities Carrying Liberal-Left Titles, by WorldNetDaily, 26 Apr 2006.
Along comes Brenda Biesterfeld working in the Lindsay Library, part of the Tulare County Library System in California. She catches someone in a criminal act and is ordered by her supervisor not to report it to the police. She follows the supervisors advice, but when the criminal shows up again on another day, she calls the police against those same direct orders. For this she is fired.
The library's policy ignores local law and common sense. But it does mirror the guidance it receives from the ALA. "As for obscenity and child pornography, prosecutors and police have adequate tools to enforce criminal laws. Libraries are not a component of law enforcement efforts...." [ ALA source. ] So not only has the fired librarian defied her supervisor, she has also defied the ALA. Result? She's fired, and the ALA is silent.
Here's the story. On February 28, 2008, Ms. Biesterfeld first observed the criminal activity and was ordered not to call the police. On March 4, she called the police who then arrested the criminal who had returned to the library for more. There's a reason why we have laws, and had they been followed the first time the criminal activity might not have been recurred. Be that as it may, on March 6, she was fired.
The City of Lindsay is furious with the County of Tulare, accusing its employees of lying, "Both Mr. Lewis and Ms. Hill [, the fired librarian's supervisors,] have reinforced a culture of control and misrepresentation of events and facts." Undeterred, the County covers its tracks by refusing to reveal specific justifications for the firing and by back filling the librarian's record with new, negative information. Before the firing, the librarian, on probationary status as a new employee, had good work reviews. After the firing, suddenly the record changes and her previous good work can be summarized by this coverup: "Overall her performance is way below passing and she just doesn't utilize her time well." Source: library letter dated day after librarian was fired.
Where is the ALA in all this? In almost a month the ALA has published only one story on the issue. The ALA Council, quick to attack the Bush administration and support various radical causes, has said not a word. The ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, quick to browbeat local communities nationwide or wishing it could "drown" jailed Cuban librarians, has said nothing to question why a library employee for almost ten years (in different locations) is fired, why is she told her loyalty belongs to the County instead of the community, why is her record back filled with derogatory information, etc. The ALA is right there in Sacramento supporting the ACLU in its effort to make p*rnography legal in public libraries by saying, "One person's 'p*rnography' is another person's 'Venus de Milo' or Michelangelo's 'David,'" but here, in Tulare County, silence.
Even the former ALA Councilor Jessamyn West has sadly noted this silence: "I really wish ALA had come out and made some sort of a statement on this, but I'm not sure what it would have said." [ Librarian.net source. ] I have commended Ms. West in the past for exposing the ALA's silence about the truth about so-called "Banned Books Week."
Exactly what is it that the ALA wants people to ignore by maintaining radio silence so loud even its own former councilors recognize it. Might it be its own policies as exemplified in Tulare County are totally in opposition to local community law and interests and should not be adopted into local libraries? Might it be waiting for this story to disappear from the news so other communities do not become aware, thus do not remove similar ALA policies from their own public libraries?
They are public libraries, after all, not ALA libraries. The ALA's silence speaks loudly that the ALA is hoping other communities will not examine their own library policies too closely. The ALA likes the status quo where most libraries revere ALA policies over local law, common sense, and community standards.
Is this what you want in your own communities? Will the ALA's silence help bury the issue so you'll take no action to remove similar policies from your own public libraries?
Comment below and tell everyone what you think.