News from the weekend of July 7-8

The American Library Association’s social activism – I started out liking this short piece by Emily Whitten. She begins with a sweet anecdote about a father and daughter who are obviously poor and the joy the little girl shows when she receives her library card. What’s not to love? And then it veers into the most annoying thing I’d read that day. Basically, the author doesn’t approve of or understand why the ALA would speak out in support of the LGBT community. Wouldn’t it be horrifying if a young gay teen knew that his local public library was a safe place for him? Of where a young woman could find a book telling the story of a young woman coming to terms with being a lesbian (including frank sexual description?) The author even complains that dissent is met with accusations of censorship or bigotry. I absolutely do not understand why we need to “protect” children from “the gay.” And why scenes of gay sex are any more offensive or inappropriate that anything in a romance novel (seriously, have you read one of these? Hott.)
Her main argument is that the little girl described at the beginning needs to be protected from John Irving’s  inappropriate novel, In One Person, about a bisexual man recounting his sexual awakening starting at the age of 13 when he falls for, and is seduced by, a transgender librarian. Obviously, this isn’t a book you would recommend to just anyone, and it’s not the kind of book that just anyone will pick up. Irving is blunt when he says he’s writing about sexual taboos. I wonder if Whitten has a copy of 50 Shades of Grey at her library – and if she tried to have that banned too.

Naperville Library wants food for fines – An excellent way for a library to partner with a community organization while raising awareness about hunger/food pantries.

What lies behind the battle over the New York Public Library – People are very upset about plans to renovate the main NYPL, and with good reason. The library now is similar to the Library of Congress – it’s open to everyone with the purpose of research. They’re planning on moving 60% of the collection offsite, making it more difficult to get books (a 1 day wait is my understanding), smashing (oh, that makes me twitchy) the closed stacks to make way for cafés and computers and lounges. I don’t even understand how they can contemplate banging away at such an historic site. And for what? A café?
The Geography of Chicago Public Library Usage – an interesting look at how users use Chicago libraries.

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