Friday, November 26, 2010

Anything Goes for America if Seattle Public Library Director Susan Hildreth's Nomination is Confirmed for the Institute of Museum and Library Services

Susan Hildreth
"Anything goes" is coming to American libraries if the nominee for the Institute of Museum and Library Services [IMLS] Director is confirmed.   Susan Hildreth has been nominated for this post.  N1, N2, N3.  She is the American Library Association's [ALA] Freedom To Read Foundation [FTRF] Treasurer.  She is also the Seattle Public Library's director.  She should not be confirmed.  Here's why:

Susan Hildreth's ALA is an Anything-Goes Organization Out of the Mainstream

The ALA, in which Susan Hildreth is prominently positioned, is an "anything goes" organization.  As Will Manley of the ALA put it:

It would appear that in the case of keeping children away from Internet p[]rnography, it is the library profession, not the Supreme Court, which has distanced itself from the mainstream.  Our profession's 'anything goes' view of intellectual freedom simply does not square with the values of the communities we serve.  N4.

Will Manley asks:

Why is there such a disconnect between our profession and everyone else on this particular issue?  More specifically, how could we have allowed ourselves to be put in such a publicly disadvantageous position as defending the right of children to access p[]rnography?  The answer is simple and ironic.  Our profession preaches intellectual freedom but does not tolerate its practice within our own ranks.  Librarians imbued with common sense and good political judgment are afraid to espouse even a moderate position that advocates the limited use of filters.  There is a great fear within librarianship of being branded a censor.  No librarian wants to be wounded by that bullet.  That's why we can never really initiate an open and honest dialogue among ourselves on issues involving even the most obvious need for limitations of intellectual freedom.  As a result, the extremists always dominate, and we end up with an "anything goes" official policy that distances the library profession from mainstream America.  N4.

Has an out-of-the-mainstream extremist just been nominated for IMLS Director?  She is from the FTRF, after all.  But let us look at the library that she directs to examine this issue further.  She likely has more sway there as director than in the ALA as treasurer of the FTRF.

Susan Hildreth's Library Approves Internet P0rnography and Opposes Filtering

Susan Hildreth directs the Seattle Public Library.  The library refuses to use Internet filters to cut back on the p0rnography that may attract crime.  N5.  In fact, the library welcomes p0rnography: it's—"okay"!  A shocking statement, yes, but here is the basis for that observation:

"Each individual to have access to constitutionally protected material," Seattle Public Library Spokesperson Andra Addison said.

In Seattle, it's open access to everyone. As long as it's legal, it's okay, even if it's explicit. They're not about censorship, they're about protecting user privacy and confidentiality.

"The library believes it's the right and responsibility of parents and legal guardians to determine and monitor their own children's use," Addison said.

And that's where it comes down to choice: choice for parents, choice for the library.  Libraries try to walk that line, especially since there is a wide range of what people consider explicit.  But all will tell you, filters can be a false sense of security.

"You can be vigilant, and you can be proactive but you cannot prevent it," Rosemary said.  N6.

Susan Hildreth's Outdated Dogma on Internet Filters and Public Library P0rn

Dean Marney
A "false sense of security"?  Does Susan Hildreth believe that?  Yes.  As she put it, "Internet filtering is not 100 percent effective at all.  They're not able to deal with all the wild and crazy sites that are put up at every minute of the day."  N7.

Is it true that filtering is not effective and that legal p0rnography may not be kept out of libraries?  Of course not.  It may be what Susan Hildreth believes, the person nominated to lead the IMLS, but it is not true.  Ask library director Dean Marney, for example.  He revealed that the ALA uses outdated dogma to control local libraries, and good filters work fine.  See, "Library P[]rn Removal Roadmap; NCRL Director Dean Marney Details How to Legally Remove Legal P[]rn from Public Library Computers and Advises that the ALA Relies on Outdated Dogma."  N8.

Susan Hildreth is using outdated dogma as well.  She won't change when she gets to the IMLS.

The Seattle Public Library Run by Susan Hildreth is Riddled with Crime

And what has come of Susan Hildreth's anything-goes policy?  This is an important question because, as IMLS Director, she may bring the ALA's anything-goes, out-of-the-mainstream and outdated dogma to the national stage.  How has the Seattle Public Library been affected by this policy with which Susan Hildreth agrees?  It has been riddled with crime, that's how.  Look:

KIRO7 Library Misconduct
Click for Video
KIRO Team 7 Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne discovered security has already ejected 432 patrons in the first four months this year for offenses like assault, drug dealing, intoxication and lewd conduct.
In all, 1,323 conduct violations were substantiated just in 2008, a disproportionate number at the Central Library branch.
According to Seattle Library Administrator Marilynn Gardner, nobody has to worry about safety at any branch.  N9.

Right.  Nobody has to worry about safety in a library with thousands of incidents, N9, and where management believes viewing p0rnography is "okay," N6.  No wonder Seattle librarians think there's a "sort of 1984 atmosphere at the library these days."  N10.

The library simply refuses to use Internet filters to prevent p0rnography, N5; indeed, it believes p0rnography in the public library is "okay."  N6.  And the crimes continue by the hundreds.  N11.  Hundreds!  Does anyone see a problem with that?  Does anyone want Susan Hildreth to use her position as IMLS director to bring that to American libraries?

Loss of E-Rate Funding Never Restored; Hildreth Says Go Fish to the Poor

For those who do not know, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Internet filters in public libraries are perfectly legal.  N12.  To get E-Rate funding for "Internet Access," all you need do is use Internet filtering.  The Seattle Public Library used to get money for "Internet Access," but 2003 was the last year as a result of the library's refusal to use Internet filters.  N13.  At least that's better than the nearby King County Library System that is defrauding the E-Rate program of over $1,000,000.  N14. 

Does anyone in the Seattle community know that the Seattle Public Library is intentionally turning down funding it used to get, simply because p0rnography is "okay"?  Has Susan Hildreth, struggling for funding for the library, N15, done anything to restore the lost E-Rate funding?  No.  Instead, the library will shut for a week.  N15.  Apparently, ALA politics trumps local interests.  "[F]or those who aren't familiar with our digital collection, this is a good time to learn how to download books, movies and music, since they will be available during the closure," said Susan Hildreth.  N15.

Librarians, always decrying the "digital divide," N16, suddenly advise people to "learn how to download."  N15.  Will poor populations have computers at home to download during the week?  She could have obtained E-Rate funding by properly filtering the computers but chooses instead to shut the library for a week.  It's just more evidence of Hildreth's ideological bent.  Obviously she cares more about the p0rn people than about the poor people.  Is that IMLS material?

Susan Hildreth Frightens Librarians Into Silence

Remember from above how Will Manley revealed librarians are afraid to speak out for fear of what the ALA might do?  Guess who Seattle Public Library librarians fear?  IMLS director nominee Susan Hildreth:

[M]any librarians feel unrepresented by management, and some fear retribution for speaking their minds against new policies and restructuring.
When asked why she didn't include a librarian on the committee to provide perspectives of what day-to-day SPL employees need or believe should be added to service, Hildreth says she didn't want an internal perspective to influence the committee.  "That's why we don't have [library] board members on the committee," she says.
The advisory committee isn't the only place where librarians feel silenced, though.  In recent months, SPL employees have taken to anonymously posting comments on blogs to air their grievances about recent shifts in policy and what they perceive as a newfound institutional inattentiveness to the needs of many patrons.  SPL employees stormed the web in protest when the December 30 edition of American Libraries magazine praised Hildreth and the library board for being "inspiring" and "ambitious."

The Stranger
A number of librarians have contacted The Stranger anonymously because they think the public needs to be informed that they are unhappy with SPL leadership.  Common complaints include anger at the creation of a new level of middle management while entry-level positions are cut and hours are shortened; a lack of librarian input on planning, restructuring, and budget decisions; fear of retribution for negative comments (even if the comments are delivered internally, through proper channels); a lack of communication with the library board; and a long-term plan to replace qualified librarians with volunteers and paraprofessionals.
Librarians have their own hopes for [Mayor] McGinn.  The mayor doesn't have much official power over the library-he approves the budget and appoints new members to five-year terms on the five-person library board-but they would like him to advocate for them.  One librarian says, "It's hard for someone in my position not to fantasize about the mayor pulling Susan Hildreth aside at some future meeting and saying, 'I hear your staff is not at all happy with how things are being run lately.  Not enough communication?  Something about bullies?  Might [be worth] watching.'  It'd be nice to imagine there was pressure, however subtle, from above, for her to clean house a bit."  N16.

Wow.  Her own librarians are afraid of Susan Hildreth, and now she's going to be the IMLS director.  Wow.


How ALA and ALA Affiliate Bullies
Get It Done
If Susan Hildreth becomes IMLS director, ALA politics will trump national interests, just like they trumped local Seattle interests with Susan Hildreth at the helm.  She can clearly steer national funding the ALA's way.  N17.  I am certain she will steer national policy the ALA's way as well.  Communities may suffer as a direct result.

I strongly oppose approving Susan Hildreth as IMLS director, and I urge people to contact their leaders [U.S. Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121].  For example, urge Senator John McCain to oppose Susan Hildreth as IMLS director.  Especially tell members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee before December 1.  N18.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will be holding a full committee markup at 10am on Wednesday, December 1.  On the agenda for this markup, among other issues, the committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Susan Hildreth to be the director of the Institute for Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS).  N18.

And, given what Will Manley (and The Stranger) said about librarians being afraid to speak out for fear of being labeled a censor (like the ALA labels all library patrons who raise concerns, N19), comments below may be left anonymously.  Here's your chance.  Speak out before the ALA policy that has made the Seattle Public Library crime riddled and fear wracked becomes national policy.  The ALA monitors this blog so your comments will be noticed.

End Notes

N1:  "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 9/29/10," by Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, 29 September 2010.

N2:  "Hildreth To Be Nominated as IMLS Director," by David Rapp, Library Journal, 30 September 2010.

N3:  "President Nominates Former Public Library Association President for IMLS Director," by Jenni Terry, (ALA) American Libraries, 30 September 2010.

N4:  "Intellectual Freedom Begins at Home," by Will Manley, (ALA) Booklist, 1 October 2003.

N5:  "Public Use of the Internet Policy," by Library Board of Trustees, The Seattle Public Library, 22 January 2002.

N6:  "P[]rn at the Public Library: How Do Local Libraries Compare Across the State?," by Chelsea Kopta, KEPR 19, 12 June 2009.

N7:  "P[]rn, Sex Crimes At Libraries," by Dan Noyes, KIRO 7, 19 October 2007.

N8:  "Library P[]rn Removal Roadmap; NCRL Director Dean Marney Details How to Legally Remove Legal P[]rn from Public Library Computers and Advises that the ALA Relies on Outdated Dogma," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 15 November 2010.

N9:  "Library Conduct Violations Reach All-Time High," by Chris Halsne, KIRO 7, 27 May 2009.

N10:  "Not Keeping Quiet; Librarians Speak Out Against Proposed Policies at Seattle Public Library," by Paul Constant, The Stranger, 16 June 2009.

N11:  "Incidents by Primary Rule Violation, 2007-2009," by Seattle Public Library, KIRO 7, data from 3/07-12/09.

N12:  United States v. American Library Association, 539 U.S. 194 (2003).

N13:  "Automated Search of Commitments," by Universal Service Administrative Company, undated.

N14:  "Library Leaves Pedophile Free to Molest Other Children; King County Library System Defrauds Taxpayers of $1,158,253 from CIPA Program; Media Investigation Needed," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 14 October 2010.

N15:  "Seattle Libraries to Shut Down for a Week; Budget Woes for Second Closure in a Year," by Larry Lange, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 22 August 2010.

N16: "Corporate Euphemisms, Angry Librarians, Accusations of Bullying: The Tense Battle for Seattle Public Library's Future," by Paul Constant, The Stranger, 8 April 2010.

N17:  "Among $9.3 Million in National Leadership Grants, IMLS Backs ALA E-Government Project," by Carrie Netzer Wajda, Library Journal, 4 October 2010.

N18:  "HELP Committee is Scheduled to Vote on the Nomination of Susan Hildreth and LSTA Reauthorization," by ALA Washington Office, American Library Association, 24 November 2010.

N19:  "The Parent Trap: ALA Uses Banned Books Week to Ridicule Patrons Complying with ALA Materials Reconsideration Policies," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 29 September 2010.

About the Author

I'm Dan Kleinman and I wrote the above opinion.  I began opposing ALA policy almost a decade ago when the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom policies forced inappropriate material into the hands of my kindergartner.  The school principal eventually removed the material from the public school library stating she found it twice as bad as I had reported.  Now running, I educate people and politicians about who controls public libraries and what can be done to restore local control.  I am consulted nationwide for my expertise in how the negative aspects of ALA influence can be mitigated, and I appear in numerous media reports.  I write regularly and ask people to consider subscribing to SafeLibraries.  Guest posts are welcome.  I track library crimes on Delicious and broadcast my latest crime additions on my SafeLibraries Twitter.  I may be reached at

My efforts and those of my late partner, Mark Decker, have been rewarded by the ALA naming SafeLibraries as one of its "prominent" opponents, if not the top one.  See "Intellectual Freedom Manual, Eighth Edition," Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association, 2010, p.383 [ALA's online version naming SafeLibraries].  Also see:

I am available for media interviews.  This is especially important as the ALA plans a huge propaganda campaign in September 2011 for the 30th anniversary of "Banned Books Week."  I can provide balance with a smile and with solid legal and factual support, as illustrated above.  Hint, no books have been banned in the USA for almost 50 years.

URL for this blog post:  


Today, the Senate HELP committee was no help.  The nomination of Susan Hildreth to be the director of IMLS was favorably reported from committee.  Her nomination now goes to the full Senate.  When you call your senators, please urge them to oppose Ms. Hildreth’s nomination.  Given this is the lame duck session, I doubt such opposition will prevail.




  1. You might get with the program and do some reading yourself about web proxy technology. Either that, or ask most 15 year olds how to find one and how to use one to get around those "effective internet filters."

  2. Your article has a shrill tone and biased slant. If you are actually interested in the facts (as you seem to imply by having so many citations) then I suggest you may want to examine your arguments and assumptions from the other side too and see where they fall down.

    I'm afraid you come off as more of an extremist than anyone in your article. I could see the spittle spraying with each sentence.

  3. This whole post is forced and contrived, and takes things entirely out of context. How do I know? I work at the library Hildreth manages. Do I think she's a good choice for the national post? No, I do not. But not for any of the reasons here. I think she's bad for the job because she's a corporate hack, interested in privatizing libraries, protecting and promoting overpaid executives while gutting public service staff. Do your research, wankjob. There's more to life than your one tired issue.

  4. I find it amazing that this post has scored such negative commentary from anonymous people. I must have hit a nerve.

    As to the latest Anonymous, I have done research, hence all the links to reliable sources.

    That said, part of my research includes asking the librarians there to "speak out," and you have done so. Therefore, will you please expand on this:

    "I think she's bad for the job because she's a corporate hack, interested in privatizing libraries, protecting and promoting overpaid executives while gutting public service staff."

    Is there more? What reliable sources can you provide?


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