Here is what happens when a librarian exposes the big secret:
"Librarian Writes Tell-All Book, Gets Fired; 'The Absolute Irony is that the Public Library is a Pillar of Free Speech,'" WorldNetDaily, 12 August 2008:
A librarian who wrote a fictional account of library patrons in a made-up town has been fired from her position at the Mason County, Mich., District Library and is appealing the termination.
"The absolute irony is that the public library is a pillar of free speech and leads me to wonder why the administration is so upset. It's fiction," Sally Stern-Hamilton told the Ludington Daily News. [Note: "Ex-Library Employee Awaits Appeals Decision," by Lisa Enos, Ludington Daily News, 9 August 2008. "'In some ways I feel like my privacy was invaded since, after all, I did use a pen name,' Stern-Hamilton said of the brouhaha. 'This is not Russia, this is not China. Apparently we’re not as protected as I thought.'" This article is reprinted below.]
Over the course of three years, she wrote "The Library Diaries" under the pen name Ann Miketa. According to the newspaper report, the book is written as a series of vignettes about "mostly unsavory" characters in a library in a fictitious "Denialville."
However, the book publisher used a small photograph of the Ludington Library on the cover, and in the book's introduction, "Ann Miketa" said, "After working at a public library in a small, rural Midwestern town (which I will refer to as Denialville, Michigan, thoughout this book) for 15 years, I have encountered strains and variations of crazy I didn't know existed in such significant portions of our population."
She was notified of her dismissal in a letter from District Library Director Robert Dickson, when he referred to a prior "Suspension Pending Investigation" letter he wrote.
In that, he stated, "The cover of your book includes a picture of the Ludington Library. Each chapter is devoted to a specific library patron or patrons. Your book portrays these people in a very unflattering manner. You describe individual patrons as mentally ill, mentally incompetent, unintelligent, and unattractive. You label several as 'perverts.' While you stop short of naming the individuals you targeted in your book, your detailed descriptions of their unique characteristics and mannerisms make them easily identifiable in our small community."
Stern-Hamilton told the newspaper the book draws on her personal experiences but remains fiction.
"Most writers, anyone who writes something, some of it's going to come from, be rooted in, your personal experience. I don't think I could have come up with (the characters) on my own. They're bizarre, idiosyncratic, so they are based on some real experiences, but of course there are embellishments," she told the newspaper.
The library picture was just "a great picture," she said. "It epitomizes the American idea of a library."
She doesn't know how Dickson became aware of the book but said she wrote it because of "what goes on in public libraries everywhere."
She specifically cited instances of known sex offenders using library computers to view pornography – "Sometimes in close proximity to children," the report said.
The publisher, Publish America, is a grassroots group that publishes "people who are unknown, without charging the person thousands of dollars some self publishers charge," Stern-Hamilton said.
On the Ludington Daily News comment page, a reader wrote, "Instead of taking pride in a local author, we are criticizing her work of FICTION? What happened to free speech?"
Ex-library employee awaits appeals decisionhttp://ludingtondailynews.com/news.php?story_id=41013
Saturday, August 9, 2008Sometimes a pen name isn’t cover enough, Sally Stern-Hamilton has learned.
The publication of her controversial book, “The Library Diaries,” written under the pen name Ann Miketa, resulted in her termination as a Mason County District Library employee after 15 years on the job. She is appealing that firing.
The Ludington Library is not the purported setting, however a small picture of the Ludington Library is on the cover. “After working at a public library in a small, rural Midwestern town (which I will refer to as Denialville, Michigan, throughout this book) for fifteen years, I have encountered strains and variations of crazy I didn’t know existed in such significant portions of our population,” “Ann Miketa” wrote in the book’s introduction.
Stern-Hamilton was notified of her termination in a formal letter from District Library Director Robert Dickson July 25. In that letter Dickson refers to a prior letter of “Suspension Pending Investigation” that he wrote to Stern-Hamilton July 15 in which he stated:
“The cover of your book includes a picture of the Ludington Library. Each chapter is devoted to a specific library patron or patrons. Your book portrays these people in a very unflattering manner. You describe individual patrons as mentally ill, mentally incompetent, unintelligent, and unattractive. You label several as ‘perverts.’ While you stop short of naming the individuals you targeted in your book, your detailed descriptions of their unique characteristics and mannerisms make them easily identifiable in our small community.”
See THE LIBRARY DIARIES, A3
The Library Diaries
From page A1
Despite the picture in the cover collage, Stern-Hamilton is adamant that “The Library Diaries” — though it draws on her personal experiences as a library employee — is fiction.
She said she chose to use a picture of the Ludington Library because, “It’s a great picture. It looks just like a library. It epitomizes the American idea of a library. It’s a Carnegie library,” said Stern-Hamilton referring to more than 2,500 libraries built worldwide with money donated by businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie between 1883 and 1929.
Stern-Hamilton said she is unaware how Dickson came to learn about the 150-page book, which took three years to write. She said she decided to write “The Library Diaries” because, “I’m concerned about what goes on in public libraries everywhere.” She said she is particularly concerned that known sex offenders are given library privileges which allow them access to computers where they routinely view pornography— sometimes in close proximity to children.
“I don’t think they should be allowed in (the library) — these sexual predators,” said Stern-Hamilton, who claims that she had no intention of “pursue this as a commercial endeavor in Ludington.”
“Out of a town of 8,000, not many people were meant to know about the book. Publish America, my publisher, asked for addresses of people, and sent out announcements to people giving them a chance to purchase it. Publish America is a grassroots organization, and willing to publish people who are unknown, without charging the person thousands of dollars some self publishers charge.”
Publish America uses a business model known as publishing on demand which keeps costs to a minimum since books are only printed when ordered.
However, people in Ludington did learn of the book.
“I went for a hearing where I was able to respond to the letter of suspension that Bob sent me. I went to that meeting and spoke my piece and got a termination letter two days letter. I haven’t heard from any of my co-workers since.”
“The absolute irony is that the public library is a pillar of free speech, and leads me to wonder why the administration is so upset. It’s fiction,” she said. “If It hadn’t gone in the paper only a handful of people announcements were sent to in this area would have known about the book.”
Stern-Hamilton had contacted the Daily News asking for a review of the book, but before that happened, Dickson contacted the paper to report she had been suspended.
In his July 15 e-mail to Managing Editor Steve Begnoche, Dickson wrote, “As she is actively promoting the book I’m assuming that she has or will be contacting the Daily News to request help in promoting this book. The book is now in the hands of our attorney and we have undertaken steps to see what action we might take, including suspension and/or termination of her employment. While we recognize the difficulty for a library to undertake these actions against an employee who writes a book — the content of the book is such that we feel we have no option.”
The purpose of the e-mail, he said, was to request the library “be given an opportunity to provide a different picture, a more balanced view of ‘life in the library,’ than is offered in this book.”
That story ran July 18.
In the past week Dickson twice said he did not wish to comment at this time.
A call to the library board’s president went unreturned.
“In some ways I feel like my privacy was invaded since, after all, I did use a pen name,” Stern-Hamilton said of the brouhaha. “This is not Russia, this is not China. Apparently we’re not as protected as I thought.”
The surname Miketa is Stern-Hamilton’s maiden name, which may sound familiar to some because her father, Andrew Miketa, according to Stern-Hamilton, was a first string center with the Detroit Lions circa 1952. But Stern-Hamilton does not consider herself a Michigan native, as she spent most of her formative years in Chapel Hill, N.C., where she grew up and subsequently went on to study art history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She met her husband, Keith Hamilton — a Ludington area native— in North Carolina and moved to Ludington with him.
Stern-Hamilton has submitted a letter of appeal. According to grievance provisions contained within the Personnel Policies of the District Library, the library director and board have 10 days to review that letter.
(231) 843-1122 x328
NOTE ADDED 1 AUGUST 2011:
The librarian is now suing. See, for example, "Librarian Tells It As She Sees It, is Fired, and Sues," where I added the following comment:
"Fiction" Includes Using Computers to View Porn Near Children
I wrote about this matter previously. See "Librarian Fired for Authoring Book Set in Public Library; Fiction Includes Known Sex Offenders Using Library Computers to View P-rn Near Children," 13 August 2008.
"Once the library learned that Stern-Hamilton wrote the book, it suspended her. She was then fired." Wait a minute. Don't libraries bend over backwards to not find out about the personal lives of its patrons? Didn't the ALA leader Judith Krug decry the Florida librarian who turned in a 9/11 terrorist to the police instead of respecting Florida state library confidentially law?
So exactly how did a library set aside the overprotectiveness for terrorists to investigate one of its own for disclosing such things as known sex offenders using library computers to view p-rn near children? I suppose this is part of the continuing pattern of the ALA ignoring librarians who speak out against libraries forcing p-rn on communities despite the law, etc.
I hereby offer my services as an expert on ALA practices and behavior as that may be relevant in this matter, particularly as ALA diktat is applied by local acolytes. Expect the usual people to attack me here for pointing out what I did, but it won't make the real issues go away, and I will be happy to assist any legal eagle involved.