So, it’s banned books week. I have a few links I’ve been sitting on for a while trying to find a way to look at them together but I think this week has given me the nudge. Banning books is bad. Challenging books is an exercise in free speech and a totally appropriate way of giving community feedback on library selection policies. Lumping challenged and banned books together confuses two different issues, to my mind. For some reason thinking about free speech and libraries makes me think about union issues. There have been a few in the news lately and not so lately and I apologize for not getting to them sooner.
- I read in Library Journal that the Jackson County libraries in Oregon will be re-opening. You may recall these libraries were in in areas hard hit by the drop-off in lumber industry work and general poverty conditions and the county could not keep them open. Now they can. What happened? The county outsourced the running of the libraries to LSSI, a library services company based in Maryland. Library workers from the system have to apply for their old jobs. What does this mean? It means no unions for employees anymore — the union had also submitted a proposal for re-opening the libraries. It means that a larger percentage of the library’s budget will actually be leaving Jackson County, not staying in it.
- In Vancouver BC the librarians have been on strike for 70 days and my apologies for not discussing this sooner. Check out the library website, bleak huh? I’ll be in Vancouver next week. I’d like to go to the library. If I have to cross a picket line, I don’t think I’ll go, or maybe I’ll just go and talk to the picketers instead. Here’s a Flickr photoset from Day 64 of the strike and a nice black and white set. The union, CUPE 391, has their own photo area and have a website and blog to get out not just their message, but responses to the messages put out by their adversaries.
You can read more about this sort of thing over at Union Librarian.