Bernie Margolis was on ALA Council with me and is one of my favorite library administrators. He’s taken some bold stances in favor of intellectual freedom, from resisting filtering to refusing to bow to government pressure to remove items from his libraries’ shelves. Now he’s being fired — or rather his contract isn’t being renewed — because, as near as I can tell from the Boston Phonix, the Mayor dislikes him. While I assume that Bernie will emerge from all of this unscathed because he’s that type of guy, I’m distressed to hear this. I always liked this photo I took of him during the Democratic National Convention, telling the TV crew to quit parking on the plaza in front of the library. [techtonics]
Now that Margolis’s firing is about to be made official, the city is being treated to a campaign of disinformation suggesting that, while Margolis was good for the historic central library in Copley Square, his track record in the branches was lacking. This is rubbish, so out of line with reality that it approaches a big-lie strategy: tell a whopper with enough conviction and frequency and you can get the public to believe it. It will probably work. Also wrested out of context are recycled versions of Margolis’s unwillingness to install Internet filters — except for children — on library computers. Free speech may be uncomfortable at times, but it should never be so in a library. It is the branch libraries, though, that are now center stage.