A quick note before I start, the most recent Skidompha Scoop in this week’s Lincoln County News was submitted for publication in error. The Skidompha Secondhand Book Shop’s number is NOT changing. It will stay the SAME as it has always been at (207) 563-7807. When you call, please continue using the current 7807 number you have always used. My apologies to you, our reader, and to the Lincoln County News for the confusion.
With Banned Books week coming next week, I am reminded again of the importance and joy of the freedom to read and freely pursue information. Libraries serve many functions in society. We are a place for community, a place to find and create connections. We are a place for intellectual curiosity, entertainment, and wonder. We are a safe place to spend quiet time for introspection and communication. And we are a place for reading and study, undeterred and free from fear and intimidation.
It is the job of the director and librarians to develop the library’s collection. We strive to include books of interest and value to the community. There are definitely books in the library that are disagreeable to some. I’ve seen a quote attributed to librarian Jo Godwin that says, “A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.” and I chuckle when I see it because it rings true to me. We build our collection with this in mind. We defend the right of our patrons to make their own decision on what they choose to read. We view this as a very personal decision and critically, not one to be imposed on a reader.
We are unable to include every book in our collection—neither our space nor our budget is infinite, though boy, do I wish it were! In response, we offer a free and robust interlibrary loan program that can search libraries across the country for any book which is not in our library. I urge you to use this service. It is free, and our librarians are very very good at finding that particular book you want.
During Banned Books week, I want to highlight that freedom to read requires a multifaceted approach. Libraries must be open, free, accessible, and inclusive of everyone. Years ago, when I worked at the Cohoes Library in New York, The American Library Association promoted the theme that “Libraries are for everyone.” It profoundly affected me and made me proud to devote my time and my heart to this work. A patron must also feel safe to read whatever books they choose, which is why privacy is such an important element for libraries. Patrons must feel comfortable to pursue information without fear of embarrassment or reprisal. Your privacy matters to us. So, we keep your records private; we do not share your checkout history or contact information without a court order. We keep your interlibrary loan requests confidential and hidden from public view; we do not discuss your reading choices, and our professional obligation is to help you find and check out your books without judgment.
As our staff highlights Banned Book Week with displays and activities next week, I want you to know we do so with a lot of care and support for the spirit of libraries. We join libraries around the world to draw attention to the harm of censorship and the benefits of unrestricted reading. Libraries will always rise to the fight against book banning and the chilling of information.
Thank you for supporting libraries.