Protect the Temple Public Library's right to display information!
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Following a protest of informational displays about the LGBT community at the Temple Public Library, city officials in Temple, Texas are working on writing a policy governing the display of books and other information at the public library. The policy will also include criteria that subject matter would be required to meet as well as a process for gaining approval for informational displays. Tell library and city officials in Temple to protect the library staff's right to provide information about the LGBT community.
The Temple Public Library, like all public libraries, is a safe, inclusive space designed to provide information to all members of the community. In June of 2017, the library set up two displays with information about the LGBT community. A bulletin board with information was on display for a month, and a book display with a book list of LGBT themed books was on display for a week. The displays garnered more positive than negative reactions from the public until two months later in October when a local branch of an activist group called Concerned Christian Citizens sought to discourage library officials from supporting the LGBT community at the quarterly meeting of the library board. Protesters spoke against the displays, suggesting that they promoted a "deviant" lifestyle and requesting that information about the immoral nature of the LGBT community also be displayed in the library.
Article II of the American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights states that "materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval" and article III says "libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment." The ALA website offers further interpretation of these articles with regard to bulletin boards and displays saying that "libraries should not shrink from developing exhibits because of controversial content." To put into policy or practice any guidelines that inhibit a librarian's ability to provide information to the public or to allow for the censorship of such information through an arduous approval process would go against the ALA's guidelines.
The American Library Association's Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services assists librarians "in creating responsible and all-inclusive spaces that serve the entire community" while ensuring that resources are made available to traditionally underrepresented groups. The ODLOS outlines traditionally underrepresented groups to include "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people" among others. Notably missing from the list are religious groups or activist groups. The ALA states that the LGBT community's "access to libraries may be limited or prohibited by many issues including...materials [that] can often be censored under partisan or doctrinal disapproval, environments which are not welcoming or inclusive of GLBT people..., and programs which do not address the GLBT experience." Stifling the representation of the LGBT community or pairing representation with information from religious or activist groups which might slander this community would contradict librarians' efforts to create a safe, inclusive space that provides information to the entire community.
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